Category Archives: Courses

Retreat Report by Amala (Lynn) Cattafi Heinlein

amala-photo

Amala (Lynn) Cattafi Heinlein

Talk about full immersion! I went from our annual Board Retreat at the Ashram, to the Shaktipat Retreat and now I am in the middle of a lovely Svaroopa-fest called “Multiple Levels.”  WHEW!

I call it a Svaroopa-fest because it is Svaroopa® on all levels:  asana, vichara, meditation, chanting and deep, very deep, teachings from Swamiji.  After all of my immersion experiences preceding it, this “Multiple Levels” retreat is a perfect way to integrate it all, and go deeper still.

I must say that I was hitting my “stuff” in a big way — but why else do we do Svaroopa® yoga! It’s amazing to have such support, including Devi, who is so adept at gently nudging me through the tough moments, while I use all the pathways inside. This retreat reinforces how much Svaroopa® yoga and Svaroopa® Vidya truly offer, and how many ways there are to access the Self.

Also this was my first time staying at the Desmond. It is very supportive and comfortable (and the jacuzzi before bed is pretty great too!). I realized today how beneficial this location is. While we have the retreat environment, the conference center also serves other groups at the same time, so I am finding it easier to integrate “normal” life into my yoga.  We are not isolated for the retreat and then having to make our way back into the world; we have the benefits of full immersion and our “cocoon,” while still having to be in relationship with non-yogis.

When we had just two more days to go, I was sure that Swamiji had some surprises and plans for us.  From doing prior immersions with her, I knew she’d get me ready to go home, while taking the “whole new me” with me.  It turned out to be true.  Do more yoga!

YTT Level 4 – Moving into New Directions on All Levels by Matrika (Marlene) Gast as told by Kris Curran

Kris Curran

Kris Curran

Kris Curran uses one word to describe Level 4: “Amazing!” She graduated from YTT Level 4 last spring, and says, “It was perfectly timed for me. It plugged me right into positive energy and into Grace.” As a cardiac nurse in a metropolitan Boston hospital, Kris has a potentially stressful job, but says, “I have more awareness of my reactions to stress and it’s becoming easier to change those reactions. I’m also ready to explore new opportunities that I might not even have been ready for.” One new opportunity is the invitation from her department to develop a Svaroopa® yoga class for cardiac patients in rehab after treatment, so Kris is planning a Magic Four class for them.”

Even after practicing Svaroopa® yoga for seven years, Kris says that Level 4 made her able to feel Level 4 made her able to feel sensation and get movement in her body that she’d never had before. “I was having a hard time with the backbends, and then I just got the alignment, especially in my lower spine. But the first awareness was that I could identify that these poses were getting me into a lot of my fear — not just of the poses but fear connected to deeper issues. Perhaps that’s why I had never wanted to do the YTT Level 2 backbends.”

In fact, Kris says she taught Vidalasana 2 only one time, and only to satisfy the DTS requirement for teaching the lesson plan that featured it. But now Kris joyfully announces, “I LOVE Prana Pump” (a vinyasa/sequence of movements coordinated with breath). She explains, “I’d never done it before Level 4, and when I saw it demonstrated I thought, ‘There’s no way I can do that. I hate Vidalasana 2. and I’m not going to like this either!’ But it turns out to be exactly the practice I need to physically clear out stuff going on in my personal life. Level 4 is worth it just for the Prana Pump!” Kris adds, “Now I actually like doing Vidalasana 2, I feel strong doing it, and I feel that I can teach it because I understand it in my body.”

Kris’s experience of Ardha Padma Paschimottanasana (Half-Lotus Stretch of the West Side of the Body) continues to amaze her. Her training partner was giving Kris the spinal walk-up adjustment, and Kris noticed that it felt as though a 10-pound bowling ball was weighing her head and neck down. Overhearing the partner pair’s conversation, Teacher Trainer Devi McKenty told Kris, “You’re feeling the tension there that you’ve been walking around with. You couldn’t feel it until now, because you’d become numb in the areas that are very tight.” “Suddenly,” Kris recalls, “I could feel it all in the back of my neck. Then all the vertebrae between my shoulders and up my neck released and moved independently.”

Connection with other teachers also opened her eyes to the flow of Grace, says Kris. For previous trainings, Kris had stayed in private homes, so at first she was not eager to be sharing a room at The Desmond. But she found herself paired with a roommate so compatible that they have become close friends. Kris says that every morning before training, she and her roommate would practice Prana Pump together, which led to her arms getting stronger, doing it better and better, and her confidence increasing.

And Kris’s transformation through backbends has continued. “After Level 4, I went into Pigeon Backbend and could feel the lengthening in my spine, and that led me to making connections in my life as well as my body. During the training, I looked in the mirror one morning saw that my swayback is gone! I really got it that in backbends for the lower spine it’s the lengthening of the front of the thigh, the sacrum and the waist — those are the physical changes that open you to the subtle changes in yourself, in your life. I have more confidence in my own teaching now, both in how to teach overall and how to go about teaching these new, challenging poses to my students.”

“The graduation ceremony,” says Kris, “was very special. I felt a great sense of accomplishment. I didn’t even feel like that when I graduated from college. Completing Svaroopa® Yoga Teacher Training has been a different kind of accomplishment. Physically, emotionally and spiritually, I was brought to new and exciting places by Level 4, reminding me of more layers to peel back, in mind, body, emotions. Level 4 was wondrous: So deep and so much more enjoyable, with a more relaxed atmosphere than any previous training. Most of all, Level 4 taught me just to surrender to God, just trust God. It’s the Grace that is so amazing, and how much Grace is in this yoga. I’m so grateful for the experience!”

Click here to learn more about YTT Levels 3 & 4 or contact our Enrollment Advisors at 610-806-2119 or programs@svaroopayoga.org.

 

YTT Level 4 Reflections by Matrika (Marlene) Gast

Level 4 grads 2

May 2014 Level 4 Grads

Level 4 is unique — a culmination of 50 days (700 hours) of immersion training in the protocols of teaching this yoga. Just four years ago, my Level 4 propelled me to a whole series of “firsts” — taking Meditation Teacher Training, travelling to India with Swami Nirmalananda and then opening my own studio after returning. Yes, YTT 4 is both a finale and a commencement of even greater things to come! There is always more and MORE…

Ruth Brown CSYT, teaching in Columbus GA, likened YTT 4 to Yoga Mudra, saying that it is “the big seal at the end of this 50 days of training. Without forcing or straining, YTT 4 was sealing our practice into every cell of our body. Beginning with Foundations, we made our way through the gauntlet of classes and DTS. We have experienced every emotion possible as we followed the map to and through YTT 4. With joy, fear, doubt and pride and even with gracefulness to clumsiness we have navigated the course set out to us…. Now that we are properly sealed to prevent leakage, we go out into the world!”

Completing YTT 4 last May, Kathy Gardner in NC says, “YTT Level 4 brought everything I learned in earlier levels together, and made sense of all my previous trainings. Connections are clear through the continuum of trainings from Foundations on. It felt as though all other poses and trainings made us ready to experience the Classical Poses, Vinyasa sequences, and Twists & Seated poses of Level 4. It was clear to me that Swami Nirmalananda has the enlightenment to create the Svaroopa® yoga pose protocols and the teacher training to create the unfolding abilities in our bodies to experience the Level 4 poses. I recognized the necessity of significant lower spinal release, the ultimate wonderful preparation, as well as the abdominals work to move into those beautiful Level 4 poses.

“The day we had our graduation I felt surprise; I never thought I’d get that far. Yet the training to become a full-fledged Certified Svaroopa® Yoga Teacher just kept moving forward. Right now I’m in good place, with classes going well and students I love. It’s a soft place, and I’m even enjoying DTS! Sending in my plans for the Classical Theme, I felt a sense of confidence, as though I got it! Of course, they may need fix-ups. But unlike in DTS Level 2 creating these plans did not tighten my tailbone! My favorite pose now is Trikonasana, which is fun to include in my daily practice a couple of times per week. A stiff knee has always given me trouble. But in this pose the changes going on in my knee are soft and pleasant. I wonder, where is this change going to take me? In fact, even though I’m in a beautiful, soft place right now, what will be my unfolding possibilities for spreading Svaroopa® yoga into the world?”

Now all properly sealed, as Ruth says, our YTT Level 4 grads go forth to spread Svaroopa® yoga with our deep, heartfelt congratulations for all that they have achieved and contributed already — and for all that they will continue to experience and to offer. May the bliss that illuminated their faces on graduation day continue to open their students, loved ones and everyone they will touch to bliss and the experience of their own Divinity.

2015 Calendar Dates

Your 2015 Calendar Dates are now available! Get ahead and start planning your training for next year.

 

Jan 14-18 ~ EYTS – Top-to-Tail Jan 22-25 ~ DIY: Heart Openers
Jan 28-Feb 4 ~ ATT 262: Yoga Therapy – Treating Pain

Feb 9-19 ~ India Retreat – Ganeshpuri’s Grace
Feb 21-25 ~ Foundations
Feb 22-27 ~ Embodyment in Australia
Feb 27-Mar 1 ~ Yatra to Downingtown Feb 27-Mar 1 ~ Experiential Anatomy in Australia

Mar 6-10 ~ Foundations in Australia
Mar 6-15 ~ YTT Level 2
Mar 10 ~ Year-Long Programme begins
Mar 14-15 ~ Weekend Workshop – Australia
Mar 18-22 ~ YTT Module #1A – Daily Practice
Mar 20-22 ~ Shaktipat Retreat
Mar 25 ~ Yogify Your Life (phone course begins)
Mar 25-Apr 1 ~ ATT 402: Deeper Practice

Apr 11 -16 ~ Embodyment
Apr 17-19 ~ Experiential Anatomy
Apr 23-26 ~ EYTS – Foundations Review
Apr 26-29 ~ EYTS – Deceptive Flexibility

May 1-3 ~ Shaktipat Retreat
May 7-10 ~ DIY: Knots in Your Neck
May 12-17 ~ Foundations
May 19-24 ~ YTT Module #1B – Lower Spinal Release May 29-June 7 ~ Level 4

June 16-19 ~ EYTS – Foundations Review
June 19-28 ~ Level 1

July 7-12 ~ ATT 201: Leading Half Day Workshops
July 14-19 ~ Foundations
July 22-26 ~ YTT Module #1C – Upper Spinal Release
July 28-Aug 2 ~ Meditation Teacher Retreat & Continuing Ed

Aug 5-9 ~ EYTS – Embodyment in Poses
Aug 21-23 ~ DIY: Strength & Flexibility
Aug 28-30 ~ Year Long Program Retreat

Sept 2 ~ Leading A Discussion Group (phone course begins)
Sept 2-6 ~ YTT Module #2A – Abdominals
Sept 11-20 ~ Level 3
Sept 25-27 ~ Shaktipat Retreat
Sept 28-Oct 5 ~ ATT 463: Yoga Therapy: Neck & Shoulders

Oct 10-15 ~ Embodyment
Oct 16-18 ~ Experiential Anatomy
Oct 20-25 ~ Foundations
Oct 23-25 ~ Shaktipat Retreat in Australia
Oct 24-25 ~ Weekend Workshop in Australia
Oct 27-Nov 1 ~ ATT 262: Yoga Therapy: Treating Pain in Australia

Nov 1-5 ~ Retreat with Vichara
Nov 8-15 ~ ATT 403: Lower Spinal Release
Nov 18-22 ~ YTT Module #2B – Backbends

Dec 4-6 ~ Regional Conference – Full Spectrum Yoga

 

*Housing & Meals Rates Apply

A Sweet Retreat by Matrika (Marlene) Gast

Marlene Gast

Matrika (Marlene) Gast

As a yogi who teaches Svaroopa® yoga, I plan my retreat and training vacations. I do ruminate about spending time on the beach or in the mountains instead, and some years I am fortunate enough to have time for both. But if I must choose one or the other, I go for the yoga. And I have never ever regretted the choice of that gift for myself — and my students.

If you are still making summer plans, take a look at “Enliven & Advance: Level 2,” July 5-9. If you have completed YTT Level 2, this course refreshes your “current standing” date, plus you will receive so much more. Last year, I interviewed yogis who took “Enliven & Advance: Level 1.” They found this EYTS course to be a sweet retreat as well as a great way to refresh pose alignments and adjustments as well as learn new and exciting ATT variations.

Mary Carpenter said, “I was amazed again at the subtly of Svaroopa® yoga. Just a hint of support can give a huge release…experiencing layers and layers of depth in my own opening as well as gathering new information and experience with the poses.” When she registered for the course, Mary was looking forward to being a student, and her expectations were fulfilled, “We had a bunch of classes in which we could just be the student. As we were in one of these classes, I realized the pose could support me rather than me working in the pose. In the inner space that opened from not efforting, and releasing the desire to get any kind of effect, I experienced the pose as a kind of cocoon to nurture and support me…more like a spa treatment than a training class. The course was a great sweetness that provided a space of openness for the pose to grow inside you!”

Kathy Gardner said, “The first day, Vidyadevi asked, ‘Why are you here?’ and I answered, ‘To be fed.’ I felt like a dried-out sponge. Then the tailbone poses opened things up for me. Those poses were very freeing. Not only was there an awesome physical opening, but there was also the immersion in community. It was so nice to be a student again and to be with other Svaroopis.”

Joe Yezzi especially liked the “sense of Oneness.” He said, “We were all there for one reason — to deepen our openings, and experience such a high energy level.” Joe continued, “In terms of the actual teacher training, it helped me get back on track. Regarding drift, I found I wasn’t that far out, but neither was I as on target as I had thought with alignments. Yes, drift happens, and the course brought me home.” As we teachers have all experienced, through those deep openings, knowing arises. Joe said, “The course reinforced my knowing that I was meant to be a Svaroopa® yoga teacher. Svaroopa® yoga is powerful, very powerful – and so easy, so simple – just softening, less is more.”

level 2 poses 1In this training, you can look forward to being trained by Vidyadevi and Karobi. Jim Totin said, “It’s really a pleasure to take class from Vidyadevi. Whatever comes up, she knows how to answer and what to do; I am confident that she will have an answer for anything. This goes for Karobi, too…. And I am always in awe of Swamiji pulling all of this together; it’s unbelievable – I tell people this is a real gift from God. I can’t imagine life without it, and wouldn’t want to imagine where I would be without this yoga.”

How about you? Is it time for Continuing Ed? Or do you just want to treat yourself to the most splendid of vacations? How wonderful that you can do both in “Enliven & Advance: Level 2” from July 5 -9 at The Desmond. You will return home having given yourself just what you needed — refreshed on all levels, with more to give to your loved ones, to your students and to your own life as a yogi.

Teacher Training: A Turning Point by Matrika (Marlene) Gast

Marlene Gast

Marlene Gast

I took Foundations in 2005 and I’ve been teaching as a fully certified Svaroopa® yoga teacher since 2009. Deciding to go on from Foundations to Level 1 was the best life choice that I’ve ever made.

It took me awhile to make that decision. After Foundations I had changed so much in body and mind that I didn’t feel the need for more. As a yoga teacher in another style, I already had several classes of devoted students, and I’d learned enough in Foundation to turn them on to Svaroopa® yoga. I loved the experience of finding bliss through opening my spine, and the new pose sequences were delighting my existing students.

But then I began to sense there was “more.” It was an inkling, a hunch. And Level 1 was scheduled for summer. So why not let it be my summer vacation? Of course, signing up for Level 1 meant also enrolling for Level 2. That would be another big step. Would I need to go that far? I looked over the program description, which talked about backbends, abdominals and standing poses. These poses piqued my curiosity. What would it be like to experience that next level the Svaroopa® yoga way? How would that affect the teaching that I so loved to do?

Led forward by mere hints of something more, I found myself in Level 1 in August 2007. I began in earnest the remarkable and fully absorbing journey of finding and expanding my core physically, mentally, spiritually. My misaligned sacroiliac joint, which had previously put me belly down on the floor in pain, began to heal when Vidyadevi gave me a Sacrum Press in Half Frog. Poses, poses, poses — learning so more about primary spinal openers, both technically and physically in my own body was a huge part of my experience daily. Morning chant and meditation transported me to previously unknown depths within, and the Teacher Trainers’ anatomy and philosophy talks opened my eyes to the true wonders and possibilities of life as a human being on Earth.

Truly, if I had the time to write about the new experiences in mind, body and heart that unfolded within me each day, I could easily fill a book. Upon returning home from Level 1, I gave the Cure-All Knee Press adjustment that I’d learned to family members. They melted. Some had been skeptical about my being away for more than a week and about the cost. But what I heard after that Cure-All Knee Press was “worth every penny” and “when will you be going to Level 2?” Level 1 turned out to be a most important turning point for me, for my family AND for my yoga students, who have clearly received benefit upon benefit over the past seven years.

If you are a Foundations Grad, June 2014 is your time for a major turning point in your life. Step firmly onto the path of this yoga that you already love! Embrace this opportunity of a lifetime. Click here to enroll today.

Easy Access to Deeper Teachings by Marlene Gast

swami4Have you registered yet for Swami Nirmalananda’s free phone call on Saturday?  Call in for a taste of her year-long Guru & Self programme, which starts soon.  You are eligible if you have either of the prerequisites: Shaktipat Retreat or Shishya Membership. The FREE Introductory Phone Call is Saturday, March 15, 4:30 pm to 6:00 Eastern Daylight Time.  Register today for a preview of the deep learning you will experience in the nine-month “distance learning” course, the length of a traditional school year.

I asked Swamiji, “If you are a long-time Svaroopa® yoga teacher, why would you want to take this course?  Didn’t you get all the teachings in your YTT philosophy talks?”  I have to say, her answer gave me pause.  She said, “This is the stuff that I left out of Svaroopa® yoga teacher training.”

A moment later I was propelled to make plans for this next step as a yogi.  Now I have just one lingering question: how could it have taken me so long to recognize the importance of registering for a year-long programme with my teacher? I don’t yet have an answer, but I suspect that it will come through this programme along with personal yogic growth — and, as always with Swamiji, more than I could ever have imagined.

Here’s the course description:

“You need a Guru, yoga says, repeatedly emphasizing this in the ancient texts. Why? Explore the mystery of the Guru with Swami Nirmalananda, teaching from the Sanskrit texts, as well as classical teaching stories and personal experiences. Swamiji explains the pivotal importance of the Guru in our Shaktipat tradition and illumines the secrets hidden in the traditional ceremonies and practices. Learn how your Guru serves you as a teacher, as a guide, as a mentor, as a role model, as an exemplar and as a mirror in which you see your Self.

“Your stories and experiences are an integral part of this course, through the group discussions with Swamiji. She helps you discover how to serve as an agent of Grace, uplifting others through your sharings, while deepening your understanding of your own experiences. With each personal story, Swamiji offers teachings and insights that enhance your inner blossoming. Extra phone conference calls are included in the schedule so you find a time that works for you.

Two enrollment options are available:

Option #1 — monthly teaching articles, audio recordings by Swamiji, and phone conference calls (you get something about every 2 weeks)

Option #2 — monthly teaching articles, audio recordings by Swamiji, and phone conference calls PLUS a weekend retreat Oct 24-26 2014

Not only do you have two course content options, you also have two days of the week from which to choose the call that you want to join:

Fridays from 10:30 am – 12:00 pm

OR Saturdays from 4 pm to 5:30 pm.

Register now for the March 15th FREE Introductory Phone Call.

You may go straight to full registration:

Option 1, Fridays

Option 2, Fridays

Option 1, Saturdays

Option 2, Saturdays

Enroll Now for the April Svaroopa® Yoga & Meditation Retreat by Ute Reeves

Ute

Ute Reeves

No matter my motives, I can assure you that you will be in for a wonderful treat.  Who knows what can happen when you open yourself to grace to such a degree? In my experience, spending a week with Swamiji, receiving her teachings on several levels, and letting the yoga take me deep, without distractions, nourishes me immensely. The benefits I took away from previous retreats were so much more tangible and permanent than the fleeting “workshop high” from other kinds of spiritual retreats.

When I first thought of enrolling for this retreat, I felt that my life is much too complicated right now to go away for a week. I am the primary caretaker for an elderly family member with serious health issues. Some very serious planning and arranging has to happen to cover my absence at home. But then I realized that I need this retreat exactly because life is demanding right now.  In order to serve my family best and without getting frazzled, I need to come from my deepest Self. A retreat like this helps me cultivate access to the deepest levels of my being.

And, of course, it doesn’t matter what goes on in my life or doesn’t go on in my life; it is always a good time to luxuriate in the bliss of my true Being.

In fellowship,

Ute

Becoming a Svaroopa® Vidya Meditation Teacher by Marlene Gast

47Meditation Teacher Training, which brings forth new Svaroopa® Vidya Meditation Teachers, began on February 18.  It is in progress now at The Desmond through March 2.  Yesterday, students, along with Swami Nirmalananda and Trainers who are assisting, lunched at the Ashram, and Swamiji shared an update on this course.  She said, “We’re now halfway through the course days, but all the teachers-in-training are already fully deepened — as far as any group has gone before. I’ve been able to teach sections from the sutras that I always left out in the past. Their talks are so good, it’s as though the angels came in at night and wrote for them while they were sleeping — yet it is the elevated understanding their minds are reaching and the warmth their heart puts into it. I am once again in awe of these yogis, as I have been with each group before; yet this group is doing more. I’m sure the extra Trainers help: In addition to myself and Vidyadevi, we have the loving support of Rukmini Abbruzzi and Devi McKenty, so each group of students gets more coaching support on developing their talks, and from very well experienced Teacher Trainers, who are also trained as sutra teachers.

“But for me it all comes down to Baba. I walk in the room, and it feels like I’m in his meditation hall. I see the students absorbing weighty philosophy with the ease of a toddler eating cheerios from a plastic baggie. I start a chant, and the students respond; it’s all in real time and it’s all more real than real usually is. It’s all Baba.”

This 12-day immersion trains yogis to teach from the “Mantra Syllabus,” which Swamiji designed after receiving sanyasa initiation (taking monastic vows). This course is for yogis who are learning to teach meditation as well as yogis who were trained in the Master Yoga “survey syllabus” course and certified as meditation teachers through Master Yoga before 2011.  The 12-day MTT is offered every two years.  If you have already been teaching from the original survey syllabus, however, you don’t have to wait two years if you are interested in enhancing your meditation teaching now.  Swamiji’s next MTT Upgrade course starts April 30, 2014, in just over two months.  If you are still teaching from the original survey syllabus, of course you know it works beautifully, as far as it goes.  But I would encourage you to take the next giant step toward Self recognition for yourself and your students this spring: Sign up for MTT Upgrade without delay.

I recommend the MTT Upgrade based on my own experience with this combination phone course and weekend retreat. In spring 2011, when Swamiji first offered the MTT Upgrade, I wasn’t interested. In 2009 I had completed the original MTT and had been teaching from the survey syllabus for year and a half.  Students from my continuing Svaroopa® yoga classes eagerly signed up for my meditation course, and even a friend of 40 years took the course!  For me, the training itself and then the homework firmly established daily practice.  It was all wonderful!

So I didn’t see the point of an upgrade.  Yes, I knew Swamiji was now empowered to empower us meditation teachers to teach from the updated Mantra Syllabus and offer to our students the mantra from her Baba — Swami Muktananda.  But I had no idea of the power of this change — until my local Svaroopa® sister Karuna (Carolyn) Beaver returned from her MTT; it was the first MTT immersion based on the Mantra Syllabus.  To support Karuna in her MTT homework, I signed up for her series. And, as they say, the rest is history.  My experience meditating with the new mantra propelled me deeper than I ever imagined, clearly into profound levels that had I had perhaps glimpsed before or had only heard about.

The day after my last class with Karuna, I signed up for the MTT Upgrade course that was to begin in September 2011.  The phone calls were deep.  The learning was profound.  It was my first phone course with Swamiji, and, once again, I had completely underestimated the depth of the experience and the learning that I would receive — on the phone!

In February 2012, the retreat weekend that concluded the MTT Upgrade not only took me once again deeper into Self, there was an ease about it that could only have been the support of the Grace of this lineage.  In my first MTT, writing the talks was not easy.  I remember one original MTT student saying that her experience was staring at a blank page, and then looking up at the clock to notice an hour had passed with nothing being written.  I struggled in a different way — writing and revising — trying to make my talks sound elevated.  But in the MTT Upgrade, the talks simply flowed from heart into my hands and onto the page.  Now, in teaching from the Mantra Syllabus, that effortlessness continues.  Last month I taught a series, and the course filled without my even advertising.  I’m still awed by that. Of course, it’s most delicious to be in the presence of those meditation students beginning to open inward to Self from the moment they sit down for their first class.

Swamiji’s next MTT Upgrade course starts April 30, 2014, in just over two months. Allow yourself to honor that undeniable yearning to go deeper and to share this path with your students. Sign up for MTT Upgrade and then enjoy the marvelous journey.

Most Influential by (Margie) Wilsman

swamiWhy did I enroll in the Guru and Self course starting next month?  Let me begin to answer by describing a personal inquiry practice that I have used for myself as well as my students in teacher education.

Years ago I picked up the practice of assessing who in my life has been most influential in my continued growth and adult learning.  This is an end-of-year review practice. When I first started it was fun to name an elementary or high school teacher, a family member, best friend, the priest who led the CYO group, a camp counselor, or a first employer.

In this practice, the next step is to write why — what about that person made them an influential “teacher”?  Why did I “learn” more readily from that person than others?

I also used this tool in my undergraduate teacher education classes to help perspective teachers realize that they have had many experiences with great teachers and many experiences with learning, which color their beliefs about teaching and learning — mostly experiences outside the school classroom.  When examining theories of teaching and learning and teaching, we continuously compared them with their learning experiences and most influential teachers.

Personally, I do this practice to see how my experiences with teachers and learning change.  It’s a dynamic process for all of us!

Why did I enroll in the Guru and Self course starting next month?  You guessed it!

The past few years, Swamiji has radically changed my experiences with learning from a most influential teacher; and she has continuously been on the top of my yearly list.  The monthly 8–12 page course readings from phone courses that I have taken with Swamiji are like receiving a gift wrapped in gold tissue and tied with silk threads.  In most fields of study, the “old” ideas are examined in history courses or tangentially in other courses.  Not so with the study of yoga’s “ancient” ideas from sages of old and our love-filled modern sage, Swamiji.

Each article is so filled with truth, with knowledge of who we are on the inside, deep inside, and how we come to experience this depth of knowing the truth.  Swamiji shares so many of her own experiences in the readings and even more in the audios.  Then in the monthly phone calls we share our experiences and hear from one another. I have first met many new yoga buddies through these calls, and then deepened our relationship at the final retreats in the year-long programme.

Teaching as clarity in delivering the ideas from ancient texts; using multiple texts for examining the same idea, providing multiple personal examples, as well as teaching as revelation — the flow of grace between student and teacher through the ideas and experiences.

Learning as experiencing the revelation again and again, experiencing the love that flows between Guru and students.  Experiential knowing as a deep level of knowledge and truth that transforms your life and view of what is most important and who is most influential.

All this and more are the reasons that I have enrolled in the Guru and Self course.  I hope you will join me for this year-long programme, whether it’s your first online, multi-media course with Swamiji, or you will be a returning yoga buddy.