Category Archives: Ashram News

More, More and More

Sakalananda Goss 170807By Sakalananda Goss, SVA Business Manager

I had a good job at a college and a condo in a trendy part of the city.  I spent my leisure time with caring friends and family.  By all normal accounts, I had a great life in Calgary… but I wanted more.  I wanted to invest more of myself into yoga.  I made the decision to move to Downingtown and live in the Ashram.

It has been an incredible two years of transition into Ashram life and having my days revolve around yoga.  Yet this change on the outside was not enough… I still wanted more.  I struggled with my inner turmoil around wanting more.  After all, I lived at the Ashram and worked for the Guru.  How could I want or need anything more? Yet something was still not quite right.  There was still something missing.  I still wanted more.

During a recent five-day retreat with Swami Nirmalananda, the asana practices focused on aligning our head over our spine and heart.  We studied the chant “Shiva Manasa Puja” (Mental Worship of Shiva).  These practices opened my heart so that I could bring more of it into my yoga practices.  I started to repeat the mantra with more feeling.  My seva has been infused with more devotion.  Every moment of the day is becoming more and more aligned with Grace.

Sakalananda - Ganeshpuri 1712Still, I knew there was more.  I knew that my mind could very quickly pull me away, as I had witnessed so many times before.  I wanted my mind to be more engaged and cooperative in my sadhana.  I started to do more mantra throughout the day.  At one point, I consciously decided to allow Grace to flow through my mind.  I envisioned being the Lord of my mind and having Swami by my side;  it was as though I became Arjuna on the battlefield of my mind.  Swami Nirmalananda was Krishna being my charioteer.  She was providing guidance and Grace.  What a gift to invest my mind into the practices.  Investing my mind in Grace.  Investing my mind in Consciousness.

When I decided to move to Downingtown two years ago, I thought I was pouring all of myself into this process.  Now I realize that I was pouring myself as much as I could.  Since then I’ve discovered there is so much more of myself that I can invest.  Now I continuously look for more ways to invest myself.  What part of my life, of myself, of my Being, do I not want to NOT be infected with Grace, NOT be affected by yoga, NOT be immersed in the Self? I have decided that I want it all.

I have done the same with my finances this year.  When I put together my personal budget for the year, I kept asking myself, “How can I manage my money to get closer to God? How can I invest my money into finding and being my own Self?” What a wonderful way to look at this powerful resource, money.  I made the decision to continue to tithe 10% to the Ashram and to allocate other funds for additional donations throughout the year.

Invest-in-Your-Ashram-logo_v2.1Your Ashram Board of Directors have also made the decision to invest more into the Ashram.  Jointly, they have contributed $22,000 in matching fund donations.  Please join us in giving more to the Ashram.  Any donation you make will be doubled! You will invest in your Self as well as support the Ashram in helping others know and live from the One Self Being All.

Click here to read more about Investing in Your Ashram.  Click here to get your donation doubled.

The Power of Grace

matrikaReported by Matrika Gast

“Such a beautiful gift” is how Frances Amery describes Swami Nirmalananda’s Year-Long Programme (YLP).  “I take the course every year,” she says, “because it opens me to Guru’s Grace, that supports me going along my way in life.”

“In 1974 I tried to find meditation training,” recalls Frances.  “I took several different courses, but none helped me.  Over the years, I read many books on meditation.  None were helpful.  Then about a decade ago, I took my first Svaroopa® Vidya Meditation class, taught by Rudrani Nogue.  It was what I’d always sought.  What I had been looking for all those years was the power of Grace, though I did not know what to call it at the time.”

vacationidea.comNow Frances is grateful for the YLP distance learning that lets her study with Swami Nirmalananda without leaving her Calgary home.  “I am lucky not to have to climb a mountain in Kashmir to receive these ancient teachings on being enlightened.  I simply click a button to download Swamiji’s articles, listen to her discourse audios and join the conference calls for group discussion.  Her articles are deep and rich.  In the current programme, Enlightenment in the Midst of Life, I am amazed by how she captures and conveys the infinite dimensions of enlightenment in plain English.  Her easy-to-understand words are organized so clearly.  Eloquent, expansive and expanding, her audios deepen my experience further.  I listen again and again and again.  I transcribe them to integrate her teachings more deeply.

“I’m pulled into knowing.  The teachings draw me in like a magnetic tractor beam.  I feel they are so clearly right.  They tell of things greater than what I am able to understand right now.  Still, I have a sense of knowing things I can’t articulate yet.  Even as a little girl ‘I knew’ things.  I recognize that same inner knowing in Swamiji’s teachings.  They affect every aspect of my being: heart, intellect, physical body, and behavior.  Sometimes a teaching gives me a course correction.  ‘Oh no! I’ve not being doing what I should.’ I appreciate the wake-up nudge! No one else in my life could set me straight in such a way.”

Frances says discussion with others on the conference calls supports her own process.  She senses that Swamiji knows what’s going on with everyone.  She says, “Swamiji gives you what you need.  She knows what a person needs to hear.  We learn from each other as well.  I am touched by the authenticity and generosity of those who share their experiences.  I hear something and think, ‘Yes, that’s the same for me.’

Swami Enlightenment in the Midst of Life“And there’s more.  Swamiji herself is a model of how to be.  Her teachings radiate with Truth.  It’s the concise way she presents vast information.  It’s the humor and the clarity.  Paradoxically, the course draws me into my Own Self within.  Specific teachings provide me with insightful understanding and instructions for concrete action.  I especially rely on her poem, which so beautifully captures the main point of the whole course:

You don’t have to leave the world

You don’t have to change the world

It is impossible to change the world

It is impossible to leave the world

All you have to do is know your Self.

—Swami Nirmalananda

“Swami’s teachings are rich and deep, yet not complicated.  ‘It’s not easy but it’s not complicated,’ she says.  The power of Grace comes through.  In this year’s Programme I’m experiencing a deeper understanding.  When I hear her teachings this time, they click in a new way.  I see links and connections I did not see before.  More and more, I recognize my Self.”

Enhancing the Energy of Money

By Dhairyavati (Kristine) Freeman (Kristine) Freeman, SVA Board Member

I’ve been limiting the energy of money.  With accounts at different banks, I’ve been diluting that energy.  I call it “financial sprawl.” My previous reasons for accounts in different places no longer make sense today.  So my tapas, doing the hard stuff, is consolidating our funds (our energy) at one bank, which means we avoid bank fees.  Even banks reward the consolidation of the energy of money.

There is a yogic science to the energy of money:

“When you give out money, buying something or giving to a person or charity, you are giving your energy out.  Money is a placeholder that holds energy, making you able to utilize that energy or share it with others.  Being in the energetic flow that we call money is an important part of life.”  (Wealth: Abundance and More, February 2015)

Lokananda - Donor gift pictureWhen you invest in your Ashram, you invest in your Self.  Your donation enhances programs, provides salaries for essential support staff and funds improvements at Lokananda (our retreat center).  This infrastructure is crucial.  The energy of your donation supports and strengthens it.  Thus, you help spread Swami Nirmalananda’s teachings to more people worldwide.  And you experience the “More” of yoga.  You experience the inner upwelling of your own joy-full Self.

To energize our first 2018 fundraiser, your Ashram Board has committed $22,000 in matching funds.  We will match your donations, dollar for dollar.  For every dollar you donate, the Ashram receives two.  We understand what we receive in return for the funds we invest and hope you recognize what you receive as well.  By energetically supporting the Ashram with our money, we are furthering our own spiritual development as well as others’ growth toward Consciousness.

In addition, Donor Gifts have just been announced.  Silver, Gold and Platinum levels offer gifts of sacred ash from our December Ganeshpuri fire ceremony, as well as golden framed pictures of Lakshmi and of Swami Nirmalananda.  These gifts signify both the spiritual blessings and worldly blessings that you receive, blessings that you also provide by your generosity.

Invest-in-Your-Ashram-logo_v2.1Take the challenge! Join with your Svaroopa® yoga community to invest in your Ashram.  Simultaneously, you invest in your Self.  When you give financially to the Ashram, investing your energy, you open yourself even deeper to abundant returns from Source.  Challenge yourself to open your heart and your wallet.  Then challenge yourself to be aware of how your support — your investment — comes back to you, outside and inside.

Click here to read more about Investing in Your Ashram.  Click here to get your donation doubled and see the Donor Gifts at Silver, Gold and Platinum levels.

Amazing ROI on Your Investment

matrikaBy Matrika Gast, SVA Board Member

I am becoming familiar with the realities of Return on Investment (ROI).  Emotionally and spiritually invested in teaching yoga, I used to call my technical writing profession my “day job.” I am grateful that the energy I invested in that profession produced useful ROI.  One return is the skills that support my communications seva to our Ashram.  Another is an IRA bank account, which has helped me in opening a yoga studio.

Yet an IRA is not as good as yoga and meditation, as they keep on giving.  With IRAs, once you retire, your nest egg shrinks and the ROI is progressively diminished.  When you invest in the yoga you cherish, your ROI expands exponentially.  The more you give of your training and experience to your students, the more your “yogic wealth” expands.  It’s truly amazing.


Most yoga teachers are not pursuing gigantic financial goals, yet we are enriched nevertheless.  Teaching Svaroopa® yoga supplies immeasurable spiritual income, rooted in the ancient teachings and Grace-full lineage of our Master Teacher and Founder Swami Nirmalananda.  Inevitably, through her, we are saturated in that flow of Grace.  In this way, our Ashram IN-vests knowledge, skill — and Grace — in us.  As we channel this IN-vestment into our teaching, our ROI expands beyond anything we could have imagined.  The more we give it out, the more we are filled.

When you experience this mind-blowing fullness, you yearn to pay it forward.  You have so many opportunities to do so.  In addition to doing or teaching yoga, you have the yogic practice of dakshina, offering financial support for the source of the teachings.  Your Ashram is that source.  Our Ashram Mission Statement makes clear that the Ashram stands as a conduit of Grace in an ancient yogic lineage.  In addition to providing teacher training, our Ashram is committed to serving seekers of Self-Realization.

Invest-in-Your-Ashram-logo_v2.1Throughout May, when you donate to support the source of the teachings that have so filled and empowered you, you double your investment in the Ashram.  Because we SVA Board Members have committed to $22,000 in matching pledges, you double the power of your dakshina.  For every $1 you donate, the Ashram receives $2.  When you thus double your investment, what amazing ROI will you receive?

As you help Swami Nirmalananda spread the ancient teachings to so many others, you can count on exponential returns beyond your personal IN-vestment.  Challenge yourself to grow even more.  Yearning to pay forward what you have received, challenge yourself to open your wallet.  Let it reflect the openness of your heart.  And then challenge yourself to be aware of how your support, your investment, comes back to you.

Click here to read more about Investing in Your Ashram.

Click here to get your donation doubled.

The Gift of Giving

gayatri.jpgBy Gayatri Barbara Hess
SVA Board Member

Chatting with friends, the topic of charitable giving came up.  One person said he focused on the Mission Statement of the organization he gave to.  If the mission was in tune with his values, then he gave freely.  He did not get trapped in previous mind chatter: “How will they use my money? What’s in it for me?”

I reflected on where I freely give, and the Ashram came quickly to mind.  To see whether it passed my friend’s test, I looked up Our Mission:

We provide yoga and meditation programs and services,
teacher training and a vowed order.
As a conduit of Grace in an ancient yogic lineage,
we serve seekers of Self-Realization.

What a mission to give to — I’m in 100%!

Then I took a few minutes to check “tag lines” at the bottom of the SVA homepage.  I read, “Experience how easy it can be to explore the inner depths of your own Beingness.”  Opposite this I saw, “Meditate with a Master.” WOW!

The Ashram is available for anyone who is a seeker, no matter their entry point or experience level.  Swamiji often talks about the multiplicity of ourselves.  With a multiplicity of online Freebies, Lokananda programs, “on the road” programs and more, the Ashram offers so much for any seeker.

By contributing to the Ashram financially, I am not only supporting the organization that opens access to my own Self.  I am also giving back to that organization as it supports all seekers.  There is no better way for me to give.  When I give to our Ashram, wholly devoted to Self-Realization, I support everything I hold dear.

Invest-in-Your-Ashram-logo_v2.1We Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram Board members feel passionately about Our Mission.  Together we have pledged to give $22,000 in matching funds.  Yes, for every dollar you give, your Board will match it dollar for dollar.  I still have a habit of getting excited about “More Bang for Your Buck”!  By giving in this April fundraiser, you send your “money energy” to support a mission replete with Grace.  You also double the gift through the Board’s matching fund.

I am blessed to give to this Mission and to our community.  Thank you for also supporting the Ashram that gives so much.

Click here to read more about Investing in Your Ashram.  Click here to get your donation doubled.

Investing in Your Ashram


By Gurupremananda (Lynn) Cattafi, SVA Board President

Acquiring material things won’t buy you happiness.  Yet when you invest your money into something with a higher purpose, the return on your investment is priceless.  When you give from your heart, your generosity does come back to you.  The joy and peace that arise from within is indescribable.  You are in that energetic flow.

Vidyadevi Stillman and Rukmini Abbruzzi describe the yogic science of investing your money:


“Money is a placeholder that holds energy, making you able to utilize that energy or share it with others.  Being in the energetic flow that we call ‘money’ is an important part of life.  You can’t even grow a garden without putting some money into it.  It’s almost like you dig some holes and put some money into them.” (Wealth: Abundance and More, February 2015)

Ashram Board Members know this, which is why have created a matching funds campaign.  For every $1 you donate, the Ashram receives $2.  Leading the way in our “Investing in Your Ashram” campaign, we have committed to matching your donations up to $22,000.

Investing our energy by pledging matching funds enhances Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram’s capacity to serve you.  This investment grows programs, essential support staff and improvements to Lokananda.  This invigorated infrastructure is ready to spread more of Swami Nirmalananda’s teachings to you as well as more seekers.  In other words, we are investing in YOU!

We also understand that, as donors, we further our own spiritual development.  Following the impulse toward generosity by making a financial contribution is the ancient yogic practice of dakshina.  It is a way to support your teacher and the teachings.  Like all of your Svaroopa® Sciences practices, what you gain is your own Self.

Invest-in-Your-Ashram-logo_v2.1You’ve heard that money can’t buy you happiness.  In this case, I heartily disagree.  By investing money in an organization dedicated to you knowing your own Self, you gain something valuable.

Over the next few weeks, you will read some very personal accounts from your Board members on what investing in the Ashram means to them, and what it does for them.  We have challenged ourselves to create the matching funds donation.  Now we challenge you, the Svaroopa® community, to equal our generosity.  Invest in your Ashram, thus invest in your Self.  Remember, for every $1 you donate, the Ashram receives $2.

Click here to read more about Investing in Your Ashram.  Click here to get your donation doubled.

OM svaroopa svasvabhava namo nama.h

The Nooks & Crannies of my Mind

karunaBy Karuna Beaver

Through my yoga practices, I’ve uncovered layers of physical, mental and emotional trappings that had held me back for years.  I’ve been able to feel and begin to heal.  This is what Swami Nirmalananda and Rukmini Abbruzzi wrote about in this month’s Teachings Article, Making Spiritual Progress in Life:

Svaroopa® yoga’s specialty is to begin with healing what ails you, then to reveal your inner potential to you.”

In the article’s words, I wish I could say that I’ve completely stopped “dragging myself down.”  Still, I am making progress! Patanjali’s yamas (lifestyle practices) do now “blossom spontaneously” for me.  I don’t have to practice as many mental reminders to refrain from negativity.  I am organically less greedy, grabby and needy in my interactions with others, and more importantly, in my own inner actions and reactions.

Yamas Niyamas

I also find myself more and more drawn to the niyamas, which focus on resolve, not restraint.  The niyamas include shaucha, purity; santosha, contentment; tapas, tenacity; svadhyaaya, chanting/studying yoga’s ancient texts; and ishvara-pranidhana, surrender to God.

In April, my practice of shaucha has included cleaning closets, cupboards and car, inside and out.  All the while, I repeated mantra out loud, speaking or chanting it.  This practice gives “whistle while you work” a whole new dimension.  To borrow a phrase from Meditation Teacher Training, mantra is scrubby bubbles for my mind.  Not only did I scour closets and car, I cleaned out my mind’s nooks and crannies.  The contemplation article underscores this benefit, calling mantra repetition “the most powerful way to cultivate mental purity.”


I repeat mantra silently at various points daily.  Yet, my mind needs more work.  With many layers to clear, out loud mantra repetition (japa) is just the ticket.  I was reminded of this recently.  I’d slipped into churning about things either beyond my control or not worth worrying about.  Two reliable sources advised japa periods of an hour or more.  It worked, and sent me into another niyama — tapas.

I’m “buckling down to do the hard stuff,” as the article says about tapas.  For me it means doing more japa.  Having cleaned out my actual closets, I’m trying to clean out more mental and emotional closets.  By doing so, I’m trusting in the blossoming forth of more niyamas.  I’m looking forward to deep contentment, and filling more of my life with study, song and surrender.  In any season, deep cleaning lets in more light.  Do more japa!