Category Archives: Ashram News

What a Day!

By Swami Nirmalananda Saraswati


I began as a seeker

before I knew what I was searching for:

something I could not name or describe

even beyond the possibilities my mind could conceive.

Yet my heart cried out…

I knew there must be something more.

The answer was laid out for me

seventy years ago,

when my Baba’s yearning was answered

by the gracious and glorious gift

given by his Guru — Shaktipat!

The inner awakening of his own Divinity

by one who could give such a gift, Nityananda.


I was not yet a toddler,

yet the trajectory of my life was laid before me

like a shooting star illumining my path.

All I had to do was find it.

But I didn’t know where to look.

Muktananda shaktipat

So Muktananda came looking for me.

He brought the gracious and glorious gift,

that only such a great Guru could give — Shaktipat!

And changed my life forever.

For the better.

For the discovery of what I had sought for so long.

For the opportunity to serve him

And to serve you…


August 15 1947

What a glorious day!



Yogic Warning about Eclipses

By Swami Nirmalananda

Swami smilingNot everything that is fun is also beneficial, surely you’ve learned that by now.  Just because something is unusual or interesting doesn’t mean you should get involved.  This is also true of eclipses.  The footprint of an eclipse is that of darkness overtaking light.  Don’t expose yourself to it!

This means stay indoors.  This is a time to do Consciousness practices, especially mantra, chanting and meditation.  Don’t eat.  Don’t sleep. Some say you shouldn’t even drink water during an eclipse.  Just as if a police helicopter were circling your neighborhood, it’s time to protect yourself.

The ancient sages warned that the sun emits abnormal radiations during an eclipse.  Even if you look at it merely metaphorically, if you are in the path of the eclipse, you are plunged into darkness during the usual time of light.  Darkness propagates fear and unconsciousness, the loss of Self and being entwined in Maayaa.  While an eclipse doesn’t last long, the imprint that it makes in your mind lingers, leading to harmful or painful results later.

In addition to the event in the sky, defines “eclipse” as “a reduction or loss of splendor, status, reputation.”  Examples include, “Scandal caused the eclipse of his career,” and “a soprano whose singing eclipsed that of her rivals.”  You don’t want to be eclipsed.  We are closing Downingtown Yoga & Meditation Center during the eclipse and sending our staff home early enough that they can avoid even the earliest edge of the sun’s darkening.

devapriyaaAt the Ashram, we will be doing Consciousness practices throughout the whole time period.  Chanting, mantra, meditation – a lovely immersion at a critical time.  We will be doing the mantra of our lineage, as well as the Gayatri mantra and the MahaMrtyunjaya Mantra (easily available online).  I invite you to join in.  After the eclipse, you should bathe and change your clothes.  Emerge back into the world slowly, as everyone else has been affected by the dark.

The traditional guidelines are:

  • Do not eat or drink, not even water;
  • Do not sleep;
  • Do not work;
  • Stay inside and protect yourself from the darkening of the sun’s rays;
  • Chant mantras and meditate;
  • When it is over, bathe and change clothes.

These are wonderful yogic ways to take care of yourself!

OM svaroopa svasvabhavah namo namah

In My Home Town

matrikaReported by Matrika Gast

Madeleine Adams took Kusuma Sach’s Half Day Workshop in Salisbury MD, hosted by Linda Hardman.  Three hours on walking was “practical, showcasing Svaroopa® yoga benefits.”

Madeleine learned how to slightly modify her gait, a change that rippled into relieving pressure on her arthritic hip. A longtime Svaroopa® yoga student and Foundations grad, she says, “Now it does not collapse when I walk, and walking doesn’t tighten my spine. When you change your gait, it certainly helps to relieve tension in your spine. That creates huge mental and spiritual transformation. Walking with ease and less pain means I’m a lot less constricted in physical life, which in turn produces positive mental changes.”

“A walking workshop is a great introduction to this yoga,” notes Madeleine. “Walking is universally important to people. In just a couple of hours, even those new to Svaroopa® yoga were learning biodynamic alignments for easy, healthful walking.”

Dasi Trautlein hosted Rukmini Abbruzzi near Portland ME, for a Half-Day Workshop and Free Pain Clinic . To attend, Margot Garritt drove the 200 miles from Cape Cod. The workshop was a great gift to both Margot and a Portland friend, who attended for a day off from a set of life challenges. She got that, and more. The half-day workshop was so powerful that she stayed for the Free Pain Clinic. Margot says, “It really helped with her stresses.”

rukminiMargot was delayed in getting to ME and got lost near her destination. She called Dasi’s cell, and is thankful that she answered even though the workshop had started. Dasi gave Margot directions and assured her that arriving late was fine. Just in time for the ribcage release, Margot couldn’t do the Seated Side Stretch being taught because of a shoulder issue. So Rukmini eased her into a Rotated Stomach Pose instead. And the rest of the day unfolded with more sweet openings.

The workshop was designed to be deep for experienced yogis yet accessible for newcomers. The second half repeated the first spinal release sequence. Margot says, “The repetition was really nice. Although I am trained to lead Half-Day Workshops, I had forgotten that you can repeat sequences. I saw how everyone settled into themselves with this approach. It was simple and powerful.”

Margot also got a boost for her Lunge experience, especially welcome because now she is the only Svaroopa® yoga teacher in her area. “With a hip issue, I’d been holding myself back in Lunge, keeping myself for going very far forward” she describes,. Rukmini noticed, and supported me in going forward to my full extension, then all the way back. Doing so let me find my true midpoint in between. So I was able to get more of the beneficial Lunge effects in my back leg. ‘Yeah, I can do this,’ I thought. It was great to get unstuck and move beyond my mind set.”

yoga0248 RGBTo prepare for chanting, Rukmini took time to customize everyone’s seated propping for maximum comfort. Margot says, “It was wonderful to see Rukmini prop everyone individually, to support the deep changes that meditation can make in your body as well as your mind. Rukmini’s caring preparations ensured that our sitting was a sweet closing of the day.”

With Mandali Travels, Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram generates powerful bliss ripples. They are spreading transformation and strengthening Svaroopa® yoga communities far and wide.  See our calendar for all our programs.

Why I Teach Svaroopa® Yoga

Phil MilgromBy Krishna (Phil) Milgrom

I have taught several styles of yoga. I have been introduced to many more. Nothing compares to Svaroopa® yoga.

I teach Svaroopa® yoga because I know my students are getting the best care possible. They feel better physically, mentally and emotionally. Even after their first class, students often report huge improvements. For example, they confide that after that first experience of Svaroopa® yoga, they slept well for the first time in years.

Some come to their first class as a last resort. They had been convinced they would have to live their whole lives in pain. But, after a few weeks of practice, their pain is gone. They feel better about themselves. They are happier.

DSC0116I teach Svaroopa® yoga especially because it empowers my students. I do not want them attending classes for a BandAid. They learn to take care of themselves, to take control of their healing.  The Magic 4 and Ujjayi Pranayama give them a home practice.

Most important is the transformative effect of Svaroopa® yoga at the deepest level. My students regain a sense of wholeness. They came in “beside themselves.” In class they return to Self within.


What brings me the greatest satisfaction is what happens at the bookends of each class.  As students arrive, I am grateful for the opportunity to adjust and ease them into a peaceful, deeply relaxing Shavasana. At the end of class, I enjoy seeing their transformed faces. Only 90 minutes earlier their faces were fraught with anxiety and exhaustion. As they sit up from Yoga Mudra, I see softer faces, with more color and sunny smiles. Their hearts are open, joyful and brimming with gratitude.

Teaching Svaroopa® yoga always leaves me feeling more whole and healthy both physically and spiritually. From the appearance and testimonies of my students at the end of class, I know that they are experiencing the same. I would say it doesn’t get any better than this, but that’s not true. Every day, every one of the 20 years I have been teaching Svaroopa® yoga, it gets even better.

Nag Panchami, Cobra Festival

cobra dayBy Priya Kenney and Swami Nirmalananda

Nag Panchami is the Hindu festival honoring the energy that has become this universe.  “Nag” (nawg) means snake and “panchami” (pawn-chaw-mee) is the name of the fifth day after the full moon, July 27th this year.

In the human being, this kinetic energy is dormant until awakened, lying coiled in the energy center just below the tip of your tailbone.  Once awakened, Kundalini arises within you and blossoms you into the Divinity you have always been.  This annual holy day honors Kundalini as the serpentine energy, both within the human being as well as in snakes.

Even though people in India are not widely familiar with Kundalini and Her association with the snake, Hindus regard it as an auspicious day.  The mystical energy within the human being is secret knowledge, so most people are worshipping the snakes, as Hinduism sees everything as being holy.  They bring flowers, sweets and do ritual baths with milk and water.

shiva.jpgEspecially Shiva temples have snake murtis, because snakes are dear to Shiva.  He is usually shown with a cobra coiled around his neck, indicating that He is the origin and master of Kundalini.  He becomes the Guru in order to make this energy available to spiritually motivated people, who are naturally drawn to yoga’s mystical practices and initiations.  Thus, on Nag Panchami, we honor “nag,” the snake, as well as the Guru who has given us the great gift of Shaktipat.  You are honoring Shiva, who is arising within you.  This is the promise that you will know your own Shivaness.

Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram is celebrating Nag Panchami on with a free program Thursday July 27 from 6:30-8:30 am.  At Downingtown Yoga & Meditation Center, we’ll begin with the traditional morning chant, “Srii Guru Gita, followed by meditation and a special puja to honor Kundalini.  Everyone is welcome for this mystical occasion.

OM svaroopa svasvabhava namo nama.

Diving into the Deep End

Cyndi McKenna

Cyndi McKenna

Cyndi McKenna, interviewed by Priya Kenney

Cyndi McKenna, from Yelm, describes herself as a long-time seeker. She has owned a spiritual bookshop and managed a spiritual center with her husband. Her spiritual journey was well underway before she discovered Svaroopa® yoga and meditation. She had many experiences along the way, but “it wasn’t complete,” she said. “We weren’t given the teachings or philosophy that explained the experiences. I felt a bit lost and in a rut. Where could I get authentic guidance?”

Researching about selling a water purifier to the yoga market, she bought her first ever copy of Yoga Journal in March 2016. In it the Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram ad caught her eye. She went to the website, did extensive research and found a Svaroopa® yoga YouTube video. Gathering up blankets and firm couch cushions, she went through the poses, pausing the video for alignments. Cyndi was surprised to be led inward to “the Presence,” a deep peace and calmness that she had experienced before. She thought, “Wow, yoga poses can put me in that state too?”

She wanted more. Since there weren’t any teachers nearby, she bought the Primary Practice DVD, started practicing and bought Swamiji’s first book, Yoga in Every Moment. On the website, Cyndi went through all the Freebies, especially enjoying the Shiva Sutra Talks and satsang audios. After 10 months of studying the Svaroopa® Sciences, she felt great respect for Swami Nirmalananda and applied to be a Shishya.

Swamiji Calgary bindiOnly days before Swami Nirmalananda was offering satsangs in Boise, Cyndi received approval as a Shishya member. She participated in the Thursday Shishya Guru Gita conference call. Then she drove 540 miles to attend the Guru Gita, satsang and brunch with Swamiji in Boise. A few days after returning home, she had an amazing realization. “I came out of depression and only then realized I had been depressed. It was like night and day,” said Cyndi. “I also knew that chanting the Guru Gita with Swamiji and immersing in her recorded satsangs were instrumental in lifting the depression.”

She kept looking at Foundations courses on the Calendar. Even though finances were tight, a scholarship and a cancellation helped her attend the June 2017 Foundations at Lokananda. She discovered the importance of the “embodiment of your more conscious awakened state.” She realized, “Svaroopa® yoga is the yoga for spiritual people, for people who want to embody and ground their spirituality.”

Swamiji in GaneshpuriCyndi’s other spiritual experiences happened without a solid framework or explanations. Cyndi says, “The Svaroopa® Sciences give me the pathway to move forward. The framework of Kashmiri Shaivism and Swami Nirmalananda’s teachings explain the experiences my husband and I have had.”

Having traveled to India, Cyndi knows what it’s like to be in the presence of Great Beings. She clearly tapped into a powerful stream of Grace through the on-line Freebies, and meeting Swami Nirmalananda affected her deeply. Cyndi says, “I felt the import, the significance, the honor of being in the presence of a realized master. I felt humbled.”

At Foundations after the Sunday satsang, she waited in the darshan line, watching someone ahead of her do a full pranam at Swamiji’s feet. “I just started crying,” shares Cyndi. “I felt self-conscious. But when I got there, I just couldn’t NOT do it.” She had a “simple and insightful” exchange with Swamiji about the tears. Cyndi told Swamiji that she has been a “spiritual chameleon” and was afraid to commit to a single path. Swami Nirmalananda said no one was asking for a commitment. Then Swamiji asked gently, “Then the fear is greater than God?

VaranasigangaCyndi is in the river, diving deep into the Grace-filled current of the Svaroopa® Sciences. She has an embodied, time-tested way to dive into her Divine Essence, her Own Self, the One Self being All. What’s next? Cyndi wants to become a Svaroopa® Vidya Meditation Teacher and Certified Basics Svaroopa® Yoga Teacher. She looks forward to hosting Foundations to help facilitate spiritual access for people in her area.

My Experience of “The Ultimate Map”


Janaki Murray

By Janaki Murray

I can still see myself listening to Swami Nirmalananda (Rama) teaching about the 36 Tattvas.  It was Level 1 of my Yoga Teacher Training in La Jolla CA, way back in 2001. Yet such was the effect that the memory is still with me.

It was an astounding revelation. I had previously been studying yoga at a fairly superficial level and was thoroughly confused. That 36 Tattvas talk made all the puzzle pieces of life fall into place. As Swamiji and Vidyadevi say in our July Contemplation article, that Ultimate Map “explains the universe, its source, your life and the purpose of your life.” Here it all was in one map! It was hard at the time to grasp the whole meaning. But it felt right and complete. It was something I knew, not just with my mind, but my whole being. Since then, I have heard the same talk many times and love it still. Each time I hear it or read it, my understanding deepens.

When I was in my late teens, I abandoned my Christian roots because they made no sense to me. I spent some twenty years in a spiritual wilderness searching for meaning and understanding about myself, the world around me and my place in it. Suddenly, here it was explained in a form I could understand and relate to. More importantly, it showed to me why I had no “feeling” for God. I was looking for God in the wrong place. That is, outside rather than inside.

shivaWhen I came upon Svaroopa® yoga, I had already been practicing yoga for more than twenty years. I had gone to many classes, even in different countries and cities. Yet I did not recognize it as a spiritual practice. It was not really taught to me as such, though I enjoyed many other benefits. As the article says, “Every yogic system shares this exalted purpose [to recognize who you really are], even when their practices are misunderstood as mere exercise or stress relief.” I was doing some kind of yoga and Grace was at work. Twenty five years later in YTT 1, I was ripe for the download, after “the twenty or more years of poses, hoping for an inner revelation.” I now realize I received spontaneous Shaktipat during YTT 1. No doubt that helped me absorb the download of the 36 tattvas.

It led to me experiencing the tattvas at many levels of my being. When meditating, I frequently experience timelessness, piercing kaala, so that I have no idea how long I have been there. Time does not exist. Also, I recognize the Divine in all things without my mind being caught up in anything at all. Complete freedom.

SwamijiThe 36 tattvas talk was a turning point for me. It gave me both the understanding and the help I needed to go deeper within my own Self. The 36 tattvas have unfolded for me, becoming much more than merely a map on paper and more than merely grappling with them in my mind. It is gradually becoming a consistent inner experience. I continue to contemplate the 36 tattvas in the context of my life, both inside and outside.

All has been given to me through the Grace of my Guru. That help continues too, without conditions, without pause and with steadfastness and love. For that I am eternally grateful to Swamiji and her lineage.