Category Archives: Fundraiser

Giving Blessings

By Ellen (Lajja) Mitchell, President
Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram Board

When the global pandemic started, Swami Nirmalananda (Gurudevi) started our free online Japa Club and our Meditation Club.  In these daily online programs, she taught us how to give blessings to the world.  Gurudevi also quickly put into place many other online programs to serve us.  Those programs included online asana and meditation classes, Yoga Teacher Training, Meditation Teacher Training and retreats.  I feel that each is an offering from the Ashram.  Each is a way of Giving Blessings — the theme of our spring fundraiser.

In my first Svaroopa® yoga class about 15 years ago, I knew this yoga is different from others.  My teacher asked, “Do you feel different?  What was your experience?”  I responded that I felt taller.  And there was something else as well.  I felt more grounded, more embodied.  Those experiences and more have kept me coming back.

What first drew you to Svaroopa® yoga?  What has kept you coming back?  Have your Ashram’s online offerings benefitted you?  If you answered “yes,” I invite you to join me in Giving Blessings back to the Ashram.

I attended my first Shaktipat Retreat with Gurudevi in 2012.  In May 2020, I attended Gurudevi’s first online Shaktipat.  I was skeptical at first.  How can I have an intensive from the comfort of my own home?  The online orientation for an at-home, online program took me through the process.  I was given vegetarian recipes to support body and mind.  I was taught how to set up my space.  During the retreat, an Ashram swami checked in on me daily.  The result?  One of the most powerful Shaktipat experiences that I have had!  Grace flowed unimpeded from the Ashram through Zoom.  Grace permeated me and my sacred space, my home.  I am so grateful.

My gratitude for Gurudevi and the Ashram has motivated me to give, and it continues to motivate me to give.  Giving back in gratitude is itself a yoga practice: dakshina. Please join me in this practice, which benefits the giver as well as the Ashram.  There are three ways you can direct your financial gift:

Light the Way, supporting outreach and technology
Maintain the Miracle Factory, supporting teacher training
Give Blessings to the World, supporting our free programs

Our Giving Blessings campaign starts today!  A gift from the heart is precious. Please join me in Giving Blessings back to Gurudevi and the Ashram.  When I give from my heart, I’m the one who reaps the benefits.  I feel the abundant Grace that flows to me.  May you, too, delight in this blessing.

You can donate on our website and on Facebook.  You can call us at (610) 644-7555.

 Or you can send your check to Svaroopa Vidya Ashram, 116 E. Lancaster Ave., Downingtown, PA 19335.

Grateful for Illumined Teachings

matrikaBy Matrika Gast, SVA Board Member

When I happened onto this path, I already thought I was a yogi. But it was all in my head, though I practiced yoga poses and was a teacher in another yoga style. I felt my body only when it was in pain. My mind rarely stopped or even slowed. I am grateful, of course, for the transformative Svaroopa® yoga and meditation practices that are now dissolving tensions in my body and reining in my mind. Yet my gratitude for the guidance I’ve received from Swamiji and our Teacher Trainers is uppermost in my awareness.

In Foundations, Swamiji (then Rama) served as our primary teacher. She introduced me to Consciousness, then a new concept. For the 12 years since, her teachings in programs, trainings and a wealth of online Freebies have daily guided me to the tangible, mystical experience of Self, Pure Consciousness.

A decade ago, I learned to meditate in Vidyadevi’s “Meditation Made Easy” weekend. Later in YTT Level 3 with Kusuma and Vidyadevi, I heard that mantra was “scrubby bubbles” for the mind. How grateful I was to clarify a mind often cluttered with reactivity.

Yet I’ve received something more, for which it is hard to find words. Whenever I’ve brought up a professional or personal issue, Swamiji and our Trainers have listened, comprehended the problem and responded effectively. Their guidance has always been based in the ancient, authentic teachings of the Svaroopa® Sciences. Thus their guidance conveys more than information, it’s an illumined perspective. I recognize that it’s infused with Grace and I am propelled by Grace to follow their guidance.

Matrika at darshan 1502

This has empowered me to live effectively and harmoniously with life’s challenges as well as life’s joys. Consciousness is the foundation that supports my capacity to do the work I love. Of course ongoing Svaroopa® yoga and meditation teacher trainings give me the skills and knowledge to do so.

Yet the Grace-Full guidance of Swamiji and our Teacher Trainers gives me more — the palpable sense that Divine Essence is at heart of everything and everyone, myself included. Then I know experientially that I am, as everyone is, the One Self Being All. Such guidance has given me a life worth living. That’s why I delight in donating monthly as well as giving a special gift twice yearly. Giving is such a sweet celebration!

Gratitude and Grace logo full sizeGratitude & Grace are present in my daily life, thanks to Swami Nirmalananda, our Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram, our Teacher Trainers, our Svaroopa® Sciences practices — and you, my fellow Svaroopis. There is so much to be grateful for.

What has this path given you? What are you grateful for? Please celebrate these extraordinary Grace-Full gifts by giving back to the source: click here to donate online or call the Ashram at 610.644.7555. Every gift, of any size and frequency, makes a difference. Thank you.

Finding a Way to Say Thanks

Dhananjaya (David) King 1By Dhananjaya King, SVA Board Member

A decade ago, my Guru Swami Nirmalananda set me on fire.  She gave me a simple adjustment in Alternate Leg pose.  That touch ignited a slow burn, which has been profoundly transformative.  I am truly grateful, for I am different now in ways I could never have imagined.

If you had told me then that I would have compassion for people who were trying to harm me or my family, I would have told you in no uncertain terms you were wrong.  Yet here I am, wanting to help those whom, in the past, I would have called enemies.  Before she came into my life, I was caught in drama, in the pursuit of desire.  Now I have only the one yearning, to know myself as the One Self Being All.

Swamiji in GaneshpuriBecause I am grateful to Guruji, I feel compelled to show my gratitude.  Yet how do you show gratitude to her, when she attributes everything that she gives as coming from her own Guru? When you thank her for all she has given, Guruji says she does what Baba has empowered her to do.  She offers to us what Baba offered to her.  She gives to us what we are able to receive.

So I feel that showing gratitude is supporting her in any way I can.  As a SVA Board Member, I serve by managing Ashram facilities.  I help improve the Ashram buildings that hold the Shakti which she infuses.  In gratitude, I offer time and service to support our community.  Following Guruji’s lead, I deal with everyone I meet in a more meaningful and present way.  I am empowered to do this because Guru’s Grace flows through me into everyone with whom I come into contact.

At this designated time of Thanksgiving, I ask you to find a way to show your gratitude for what you have received from Swami Nirmalananda’s teachings and presence.  Expressing your gratitude tangibly will serve you in cultivating the seeds of transformation that she has planted in you.  Once you fully give yourself to the act of giving, things that you could never have imagined will unfold.

Inner Awakening logoOr perhaps looking at this another way works better for you.  A better question may be how much can you receive? Perhaps you don’t yet notice what she has planted in you.  If so, pondering this question will help you notice the new you that is beginning to form, thanks to Swami Nirmalananda’s teachings and presence.

In any case, I invite you to recognize what you have received and find a way to show your gratitude.  I don’t fully comprehend how she brings to fruition the transformation in each of us who sit at her feet.  I just know that I want to help her do what she does for all of us.

I ask you to do as I am doing, to support her in any way you can.  In this season of giving and gratitude please give what you can to support Guruji.  Click here to donate on online, or call the Ashram at 610.644.7555.  Every gift, of any size and frequency, makes a difference.  Thank you.

Gratitude & Grace: Fearless Generosity

By Amala Cattafi, SVA Board President

Gratitude and Grace logo full size

In order to feel the awe and humility of gratitude, you have to let go. You can’t analyze and evaluate what you’ve been given. While this sounds easy, it can be so very difficult. Especially when the gift is the gift of your Self. It can be so easy to look around, compare yourself and your experiences with others, focusing only on what you have not yet realized.

Yoga says, “Just let go. Let yourself be overwhelmed.” OK…how?

“In the moment gratitude arises, when you get your ego out of the way, when you get to ‘oh wow, I am deeply touched,’ you can let your heart be touched and let down your guard. You give up who you usually are, and then you are propelled into who you really are.”                                           — Swami Nirmalananda

Gratitude, Generosity and Grace — the 3 G’s. Our Ashram Board is focusing our fall fundraising campaign on Gratitude & Grace, but Generosity is the organic result.

I confess that generosity has always been easier for me than gratitude. Not that I am not thankful, it is just that I often tend to focus on others’ needs first. I find it easier to give a gift than to receive it, perhaps not feeling worthy. Maybe receiving is easier for you. Generosity and gratitude are like the two sides of the same coin. Generosity will help you find the gratitude that’s there. Likewise, awe of true gratitude will open your heart to generosity.

For example, when you have a deep experience of your Self in meditation, during Shaktipat, or at darshan, it’s easy to understand it is the greatest gift from the Guru. You melt into gratitude and your heart immediately opens wide. Your mind stops and you want to live in that feeling. In that moment, overwhelming generosity flows with ease.

Flip the coin. Think of a moment when you had an impulse to give a financial gift or to give of your time and energy. Fearless generosity arose within you. It bubbled up like gently simmering milk. Did you shut it down, or let yourself go into it? When you second-guessed it or shut it down, you likely felt regret, but you shut that down too. Your mind activates all the reasons why you shouldn’t have listened to your heart.

What about the times when you let fearless generosity guide you?  When you offered a donation that seemed beyond what was “reasonable;” when you offered yourself for seva that you “had no time for;” when you got your ego out of the way to apologize to someone you may have hurt, even when you were “right.”  If you look at these moments, I would bet that putting yourself out there left an afterglow of deep gratitude.

Grace is propelling both gratitude and generosity. It moves you, overwhelms you and opens your heart, which opens up a deeper perspective. It shifts your focus from what you lack to what you have. It opens you up to the miracle of being vibrantly alive. This is why we are here — to live in that knowing.


“True generosity opens your heart and quiets your mind…  Practicing generosity invites yoga into your relationships with money, with time and with other people.”  — Swami Nirmalananda

In this season of giving, please follow your impulse to give in support of the Ashram and all Swamiji gives you. In this way, you support our ability to continue to open you up. Your loving gratitude and fearless generosity make it all possible. Click here to make your one-time donation or begin a monthly pledge.


I offer my reflection on letting go into the 3 G’s in loving gratitude to Swami Nirmalananda Saraswatii.

Namaste, Amala Lynn Cattafi-Heinlein

Om Svaroopa Svasvabhava Namo Namah

Where Would We Be without Teachers?

karunaBy Karuna Beaver, SVA Board Member

I have had some amazing teachers in my life. One sparked a love of reading. Another taught me not only how to sing but how to find my voice. My first boss showed me how to be a responsible journalist by respecting all points of view. These teachers and many more helped shape who I am today. They taught me how to do things, how to view things and how to be in the world.

Yet it was my first yoga teacher who helped me see who I was beyond what I could think, do or say. She inspired me to look inside and to view both the world and my place in it in a completely different way. She inspired me to become a yoga teacher.

Swami NirmalanandaSwami Nirmalananda says yoga teachers are unique “because they are not teaching you how to manage the world, or to succeed in worldly ambitions. Yoga teachers teach you how to be in your own skin. They teach you how to find the wholeness in your own being and bring that into your day-to-day, breath-to-breath, relationship-to-relationship world.” To me, this is the “real world.” It’s the world in which you discover you are more than your mind, your accomplishments and your relationships. Yoga opens your door to this “More.”

And yoga teachers hold the key. Swamiji says, “Without the teachers, there would be no Svaroopa® yoga. Without the teachers, there would be no yoga of any kind at all. If the next generation hadn’t been trained, yoga wouldn’t have come down to us.”

SV1714_Lineage Fundraiser logo_v1As a yoga organization, an Ashram, we rely on those who care about the world being uplifted and inspired by this kind of teaching. We rely on you. Our spring fundraiser’s theme is “Inspiring the Next Generation.” A good number of our teachers, myself included, are reaching retirement age. Now is the time to make a concerted effort to ensure that the Svaroopa® Sciences reach the next generation. Your generous donation to either the Scholarship Fund or to Swami Support will make a difference.

Thank you to so many of you who have already responded. Your Ashram Board of Directors thank you again and again. While our fundraiser timeline is almost over, you still have time to contribute if you have not yet done so, or to add to your gift. Your yoga teachers, and our Master Teacher, have given you so much. They have helped you recognize who and what you really are. Where would you be without them? Join me in honoring them with a gift today.

Why I’m Going to Give Again, and Again, and Again…

By Karuna Beaver


Last fall, I made a donation to the Lokananda capital campaign, the largest donation I’ve ever made, to any organization. While I have always given my donations to other organizations gladly, my donations to SVA are different.

The difference is in me, and the difference is a direct result of being in relationship with my Guru. The new dining area at Lokananda has pictures of the Gurus, Swami Nirmalananda, Swami Muktananda and Bhagawan Nityananda, on three walls. On the fourth is a mirror, which reflects a fourth enlightened Being — Me. It’s a concrete example that my relationship with my Guru is a reflection of my relationship with my Self.

I used to give donations to feel that I was contributing to a worthy cause, and it made me feel good about myself. This giving was an external action that caused bliss and joy to arise within me. But I am different now, thanks to many years of dedicated practice, and mainly thanks to my devotion to a form of Consciousness, my Guru, who mirrors my own Divinity back to me consistently and reliably. Now the bliss and joy of my own being inspires me to take an external action, not the other way around.


It inspires me to give, again and again. That’s why I will be making another donation to Lokananda’s revived capital campaign. There is still much to be done to make this “bliss place” fully functional. To ensure SVA’s future, organizational coffers diminished by the renovations need to be refilled. I encourage you to look within, and be motivated by what you find; then do what you can for the organization that has given you the ultimate — your Self.

As a former journalist, I understand that “double negatives” are not effective ways to communicate. But as a yogi, a double negative sutra from the Svacchandra Tantra inspires me again and again:

Na Shivam Vidyate Kvachit

Nothing that is not Shiva exists anywhere

Lokananda: Your Bliss Place

IMG_8210Our yogimmersions are now settled in at Lokananda, with almost three months of programs under our belt. While renovations continue, we now have housing for 16 students, with a beautiful new dining hall and student lounge making it comfortable for all.

We need your support to complete the needed work, so we are continuing our Capital Campaign to fund all that will make this a yogic home for all.

Our Goal

Last fall, 36 Svaroopis donated and pledged $37,000 toward this important project, bringing us 24% of the way to our goal of $150,000. This gives us only $113,000 to go. While this may seem like an ambitious goal, given the history of this community, it is quite reasonable.

The first time our community rallied to support a capital project was when Master Yoga’s building burned to the ground overnight. Everyone, including the Board was stunned, but the yogis knew what to do!  Within 6 weeks, Svaroopis had sent in unsolicited donations totaling $100,000. Now the Board was not stunned, but overwhelmed.

In 2010, a new Board and I were establishing the Ashram and embarked on a Capital Campaign. In only three months, yogis sent and pledged $162,000, making our home base a reality. Six years later, we are expanding to house our trainings and retreats in a dedicated environment. We need your help once again.

How Can You Help?

We have two months for this stage of our Capital Campaign, which is set up with four donation levels – while anything you can offer is deeply appreciated. Your donations are dedicated funds and can be used only on Lokananda’s improvements. The next big step is a new roof!

We will still reach out to you in the spring for our annual fundraiser, because it provides needed funds for our ongoing operations. Please consider how to plan your gifts in both campaigns, keeping in mind that a Capital Campaign happens rarely, only at a time of great growth and expansion.

Whether you are making a one-time Capital donation or a 2-year pledge, we hope you can find a way that works with your budget to help us complete this Bliss Place for our yogimmersions. The funding that we have available will determine the progress we make in continuing progress.

  • Bliss Builder – donation of $15,001 or more
  • Platinum Donor – donation of $5,001 or more (or pledge of $211/month for 24 months)
  • Golden Donor – donation of $1,008 or more (or pledge of $42/month for 24 months)
  • Silver Donor – donation of $501 or more or pledge of $21/month for 24 months)

Click here for more about Lokananda, including before and after photos. You may donate online, phone us at 610.644.7555610.644.7555  or email Every donation makes a difference. We deeply appreciate your support.

False Alarm – by Swami Nirmalananda

Lokananda, January 10 2016, 5:00 am

Students were awakened by carbon monoxide detectors sounding off.  They evacuated into the early morning rain, saw smoke coming out of the street and called 911.  The fire engines came.  It took them a few hours to figure out that it was caused by an underground fire in the PECO utility lines.

20160110_060511A student phoned us, so Kusuma, Heather and I went right over.  They were holed up in the coffeshop across across the street.  They ended up camping there for almost 3 hours, drinking way too much coffee, which didn’t improve their state.

Once the Fire Chief determined that it seemed to be caused by the underground fire, they got PECO on the way, and had the ambulance crew test all the yogis for carbon monoxide poisoning.  They were all clear, hooray!  Another reason I love technology – carbon monoxide alarms.


Ashram meditation hall 3


As soon as they were declared clean, we took them to the Ashram. and had their breakfast delivered there.  We led them through a yoga class and then assembled in the meditation hall for debriefing.  It took them only a few minutes to uncover the fear of death, so appropriate after the discourse on the kleshas the day before.  We did an amazing 90 minutes on this invaluable line of inquiry.  Then we did japa and meditated.

Due to the efforts of our admin staff, along with the Fire Dept, PECO, and our heating contractor, the building was cleared of carbon monoxide and opened up again by noon!  Amazing.   The yogis went back there for lunch and the rest of the teaching day.  Kusuma went with them to seal the building energetically.

What does all this mean?

First – being spiritual doesn’t free you from surprises.  Events still transpire, but you deal with them differently because you are different inside.

Secondly – even though it was our carbon monoxide detectors that went off, it was not our building that was emitting the carbon monoxide.  In fact, our Grand Old Dame of a campus did exactly what she should have done, which was to keep everyone safe by kicking them out.  It wasn’t a false alarm, but it was, sort of…

And most importantly – life isn’t about what happens, but it is about who you are while you are handling it.  DSC_0054I was first surprised by the wide range of yogis’ reactions.  They were all going through the same events, but they had very different experiences of them.  Thus, the vichara was so important – not only for them to sort out their feelings but for me to learn from them about the majesty of individuality.  Shiva has become so many fascinating selves – even you.

In our various campus locations over the decades, we were burglarized twice, flooded out, burnt to the ground and now there’s been a poisoning attempt!  It’s not easy bringing these teachings into the world.  But it is essential.

Photo FUN-raising by Karuna (Carolyn) Beaver

carolyn_beaverI’m enjoying the photos of my fellow Svaroopis in all manner of yoga poses, in all sorts of situations. The enjoyment goes deeper than amusement, though. It reaches right down into gratitude for what Svaroopa Yoga has given me: the ability to stay open and grounded in the midst of life’s ups and downs. A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to draw on this ability.

Yogeshwari (Melissa) Fountain was about three poses into a delicious weekend workshop at Matrika (Marlene) Gast’s studio in Boise, Idaho when we heard a huge boom. It sounded as if something heavy had fallen to the floor in the office next door. I went into the hallway that adjoins the two spaces and opened the door between them, which is usually locked. I saw daylight, heard a hissing sound and smelled something sickly sweet. A car had come off the freeway ramp behind the studio and crashed into the back of the building, hitting a gas main.

All 15 yogis and our teacher quickly exited the building and someone called 911 to report the incident. I knew we were not going to be able to continue the workshop, given the extent of the damage. I also knew it was not a particularly good idea to reenter the building, but a sense of calm and decisiveness came over me. I gathered as many people as I could and told them if they felt comfortable going back in, to grab as many blankets, blocks and chairs as they could carry in one trip. About 10 minutes later, props were loaded into cars, and we headed to my house to finish the workshop.

We moved furniture from my basement rec room to an adjoining kitchenette, and laid out blankets. It was quite tight, but no one seemed to mind, especially not my dog, Molly, who was quite happy to join us (see the photo of me up against the wall in JP, with Molly soaking up the Shakti). Yogeshwari taught from the top of a desk in the kitchenette, and Matrika wound up in a space in the hallway (see the photos of Yogeshwari teaching Slo Motion Dive from a squat on the desk and the “headless horseman” Matrika doing JP in the hallway!) Because the rec room is carpeted, and the centerpiece pose of the weekend was Reverse Triangle, we traipsed upstairs with chairs into my living/dining room with hardwood floors (see the photo of Yogeshwari in the dining room).

I was amazed at the good nature of the workshop participants, who almost seemed to enjoy the sense of adventure in the midst of a less than ideal situation. Everyone rolled with it and made it work. Grace. Yogeshwari’s skilled teaching and presence made it work. Grace. What could have been a “disaster” was transformed by Grace. Now THAT’S yoga in the midst of life! I am grateful for all that yoga and my Guru have given me.

Please enjoy the photos and consider what yoga has done for you in the midst of YOUR life. You can express your gratitude by voting for any of the photos in the “fun-raiser” contest, or by making a larger donation to the source of the teachings that supports you, Svaroopa Vidya Ashram.

FUN-raiser: “Yoga in Life” Photo Contest

Yoga in Life_logoDoing yoga in your everyday life is both a survival technique and more. It’s a way to hit your reset button so your inner light shines into the world. Show us how you weave yoga into your life by posting a photo in our Fall FUN-raiser, the “Yoga in Life” Photo Contest.

Inspire others with how you do yoga while juggling family, career and everyday tasks. Snap a picture while reading a book in Sukhasana, doing Konasana while fixing a leaky sink, or keep it seasonal while baking a pumpkin pie in Vrkshasana. Maybe your cat lays on your sacrum when you’re in Half Frog? Or your dog does Downward Facing Dog with you? Click here to post your photo as well as to vote on your favorite.

As soon as your shot posted, share it with family and friends and have them vote. Votes are $1 each, with a minimum of $5, all of which are tax deductible donations. This will raise funds for the Ashram as well as FUN for our whole yoga family, while leading up to our annual Thanksgiving donation campaign. Help us build a library of yogis sharing their love and gratitude for yoga.

Winners will be announced on December 10th and featured in our communications in 2015 & 2016. We’ll share their yoga stories with the world! Join in sharing the bliss and the profound healing power that Svaroopa® yoga provides. Support Svaroopa® yoga and meditation as well as the Ashram with the gift of you doing yoga.