By Barbara (Bharati) Badia, interviewed by Marlene (Matrika) Gast
“This pain that’s been bothering me all week, it was a gift,” asserted Barbara Badia. She had just finished a Neck & Shoulders workshop at Downingtown Yoga. “My experience made me realize how much this yoga can do. While it focused on improving my neck and shoulders, we started by releasing tailbone tension. Subsequent poses systematically carried the release through the sacrum, waist and rib cage areas of my spine. My lower spine opened, and the sciatica I’ve had for weeks evaporated. Svaroopa® yoga’s principle that ‘it all begins at the tailbone’ held true. Even pain can be a gift. It took me to a deeper understanding of Svaroopa® yoga’s therapeutic power.
She describes the spiritual experience that the poses opened up for her. “When I walked outside afterward, I felt re birthed onto the earth. A new inner awakening uplifted me, and I felt again the wonder of life. On my drive home, I stopped for an errand. My exuberance was heightened by sunlight splashing on the deep red-orange of autumn maple leaves. Even though I may not feel like this every day, I can remember this day!”
For 30 years Barbara has been on the Siddha Yoga path, a student of Gurumayi Chidvilasananda. Gurumayi was installed by her Guru, Swami Muktananda, as one of his successors. In February 2018, Barbara discovered Downingtown Yoga, which is a branch of Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram, founded by Swami Nirmalananda. Muktananda was her Guru as well.
Last May, Barbara took Downingtown Yoga’s “Deepen It Yourself” (DIY) immersion. On her first day, she saw photos of Muktananda and his Guru, Nityananda. Thus, Barbara knew she was in the right place. In her own words, she “fell in love” with Swami Nirmalananda. Barbara continues, “I so appreciate the clarity with which she speaks of these high teachings. She carries them forward from her Guru, Muktananda. Her teaching gives me a deeper understanding of the path I’ve been on for three decades.”
Recalling DIY’s therapeutic benefits, Barbara says, “Vichara [self-guided inquiry] focused and cleared my mind. It enabled me to commit to consistent early morning meditation. I now look forward to getting up between 4:30 and 5:00 am. An hour of asana practice prepares me for an hour of meditation. The vichara shifted me to positive excitement around these practices. I am also doing more japa (mantra repetition) during the day. Going from one activity to another, I’ll get in my car and pause. Then my mind just goes to a sweet place, and I drop into my Self. My connection with my deeper Self is palpable, I can taste it. And it tastes so good.
“I drive an hour from Philadelphia to chant Shree Guru Gita with Swamiji. I also offer seva at her Ashram. I am inspired by other Svaroopa® yogis in this community and their deep personal sadhana — three hours of practice daily. With such dedication, these people are serious. “I’ve found that everything in life is preparing you for the next thing. Not one iota of effort goes unrewarded. Certainly, the longing, intention and practice on my path has produced fruit beyond my imagination. I am grateful to have received the opportunity to have such a close connection with Swami Nirmalananda. She is a Sadguru, yet you can talk with her directly and so easily. I feel that Swami Nirmalananda is Gurumayi’s gift to me. How grateful I am for this lineage. Through it, Grace flows, opening us deeply inward to the One Self Being All.”