Monthly Archives: December 2018

My Favorite Pose: Ardha Chandrasana

By Carolyn (Karuna) Beaver

Ardha Chandrasana at the Wall became my favorite pose at the 2018 New Year’s Retreat in Atlanta.  It was part of a short, sweet and deeply effective asana sequence.  Swami Nirmalananda had created it, and I was privileged to teach it. 

I loved seeing yogis evolve in their approach and ability to work through all poses.  One pose was blissful, another was energetic, another was more difficult and yet so transformative.  All were beautiful pieces of the whole.  Yet Ardha Chandrasana at the Wall clearly moved the group through the challenges, changes and contemplation that accompany New Year’s resolutions.  Its benefits, besides opening the rib cage,include improvement to shoulders, neck and breathing.  It also lengthens abdominal muscles and helps to prepare for meditation.

Our group went into Ardha Chandrasana at the Wall after deep spinal release through tailbone, sacrum and waist area.  At first, several yogis had difficult extending their arm close to their ear, then over their head and all the way to the wall.  Even more difficult was pressing both hands into the wall to arc their torso and create movement in their spine.  Then after several repetitions,and some assistance, most difficulty was gone. 

Repeating the whole lesson plan several times daily, they integrated the Ardha Chandrasana alignment details.  With more flexible torsos, the yogis could reach the wall with both hands.  They had more arc and movement in their spines.  They could actually soften into the pose and use the strength of their arms to move them in deeper. 

We love poses that are immediately blissful.  The purpose of Svaroopa® yoga, however, is to  expand your inner bliss, both to dive inside as well as to take your bliss into the world. This means using your abs, legs and arms to support your spine, even to release your spinal tensions.  This gives you the experience of your Self.  From this inner depth, you live your life fully, joyfully. 

Our New Year’s sequence ended in a seated pose, to integrate and absorb the changes.  Sitting allowed contemplation of where we were and where we were going.  What a way to start a New Year!

Make a Promise

By Peter Gallagher, Ashram Board Member

Twice yearly, I reach out to you to ask for a contribution. Your donation supports the many needs of your nonprofit yoga organization.  It supports the profound work of our founder and spiritual head, Sadguru Swami Nirmalananda. 

Our modern-day sage, our Guru, does not take any payment for her teachings.  While you pay fees to take courses with Swami Nirmalananda, these monies go directly to support the organization.  She is not compensated for her teaching time or the background support she provides.  Our fees apply only toward the costs of offering the courses and other services we provide. 

Our course and program fees unfortunately do not cover the costs of supporting the Ashram’s whole infrastructure.  This essential substructure enables dissemination of our Guru’s free teachings to you and seekers everywhere.  Physical buildings need improvements and maintenance.  We pay property taxes, insurance, utilities, faculty and the support staff that are needed to run programs.

Many of you make a monthly donation.  In making his pledge, you make a solemn promise.  It is a commitment, a sweet promise that you uphold month-by-month.  Your monthly gifts allow the Ashram to budget confidently, providing security for our organization.  We are grateful to you beyond measure.

Providing important support for Swamiji’s work in the world, your monthly gift gives even more.  You ensure the continued stream of teachings from Swamiji.  You provide her with the faculty, staff, supplies and facility that make her service to the community possible.  Through these conduits, her Grace is unwaveringly available to you, to your whole Svaroopa® community and to seekers beyond.  Guru’s Grace empowers you to do more and to be more than you think you are.

Consider seeing your monthly pledge as a necessity, not as an extra.  Reflect on the ways that your yoga deepens your inner experience.  Remember the Ashram programs, retreats and courses that have opened you to ease and peace within, freeing your mind from need, greed and fear. What is more important than your progress on your yogic/spiritual path?  Is it worth $25, $50, $100 or more a month?  You decide.

Whether your response is a new pledge, to increase you current pledge or to offer a one-time donation, give from your heart.  Give because it fills you up from the inside out. Give and be filled with the Grace of our yogic tradition.  In this season of gratitude and Grace, you can have it all, because you ARE all of THAT. 

Click here to donate.

Upliftment through Immersion

By Deepa Maria Mazzi, Kelly Sullivan & Soraya Pereira
Interviewed by Matrikaa Gast

“Three of us local Svaroopis were invited to teach early morning classes at the San Diego Svaroopa® Yoga Conference in 2015.  Before it, we had a planning call with Swami Nirmalananda. Swamiji asked, ‘Well, what do you want to teach?’  I said, ‘People will just be leaving their beds, so I’m thinking sweet floor poses.’ To which Swamiji replied, ‘I’m thinking poses to wake them up for meditation.  I’m thinking Yoga Sit-ups!’”

Looking back, Soraya says, “At the Conference, I felt that each and everyone one of us participating was 100% present — ‘there’.  I was drinking in every moment, and I could tell that was true for everyone.  Our time with Swamiji, in her Keynote Address and Satsangs, was beautiful.  Her presence with us wove an extended, joyful intimacy among us San Diegans and all who came from across the US and Australia.  Personally, I remember the power of a profound deep vichara (self-guided inquiry) led by Vidyadevi Stillman.

“The hotel venue was not an Ashram environment.  In fact, motorcyclists had also convened there.  Yet they were not a distraction.  Crossing paths with them affirmed the strength of our inner state as well as reciprocal adaptation.  At the end, sharing elevator rides with us,they would cordially ask ‘How was your meditation?’”

Kelly Sullivan’s word for her experience is “heartwarming.”  She says that connecting and talking with the Aussies was “a kick.”  She enjoyed being able to assist Vidyadevi in one of her asana sessions and to help fine-tune alignments.  She describes, “The Conference overall gave me a sense of coming home, immersing in the same kind of familiarity that you experience in Shavasana. It loops back to being in the moment, being in your Self.  In a way it reminded me of the ‘good old days’ in La Jolla when we San Diego Svaroopis had classes together in one location.  Yet this feeling was not a nostalgia tinged with sadness.  The energy was bubbly.  Everyone was happy to see each other.  This reunion was truly a bliss trigger.  It reminded me of the bliss that Vij~nana Bhairava:

Anytime a great delight arises, like the delight of reunion with someone after a long time,meditate on the delight and become absorbed in it, so your mind will become identified with that delight.  — verse 71

Months before the Conference, Deepa Mazzi had had surgery to repair a broken kneecap.  At the Conference, she was aware of the flow of Grace from our lineage as she taught in one of the sessions.  Teaching teachers — her peers— was daunting at first.  Yet she says,“It became fun after a while.  As always,I felt the Grace of our lineage supporting my teaching.”

Given the condition of her knee, Deepa was surprised at being able to do so much asana, and to teach. She adapted some alignments to protect her knee, and remembers Teacher Trainer Kusuma Sachs commenting “interesting modification.”  Overall, she experienced the Conference as a reunion of extended family.  She says,“It was like meeting third-cousins for the first time, and you discover a deep basis for relationship.  In this case, it was our mutual love of Svaroopa®yoga.  There was great camaraderie.”A Conference immersion is relatively short.  Yet Deepa found that the experience still“stays with you.”  She explains, “I took a deep dive and felt that I floated home on a cloud.”