Category Archives: Svaroopa Yoga

YTT Streamlining?  Upgrade!

By Swami Nirmalananda

I was looking for words.  Words to describe the incredible change in our YTT program.  Words that convey my delight about how much more powerful it will be than ever before.  Words that help you understand the new levels that will open for yogis who dive into the deep end with me.  I was looking for words.

I always begin with contemplation, letting my mind be filled with consciousness.  Consciousness-Itself is the source of words, the form of intelligence itself.  “New” and “improved” doesn’t work any more, not even when they put it on the outside of a box of detergent or package of munchies.  Plus we have the move toward heirloom veggies and Grandma’s original recipes.  Who says “new” is at all “improved?”

So I won’t say that this incarnation of YTT is improved over the previous one.  I stand by all I’ve done to marinate the teachers I’ve had the opportunity to train.  But marinating has to happen faster.  This is Kali Yuga.  Time is of the essence.  After all, this is the age of the quick pickle!

pickling cucumbers on the vine pinterest.comMy dad used to grow cucumbers, the little pickling cucumbers, and then make his own concoction for the pickle juice.  It took a couple of months for them to come to perfection.  Every summer day, as a kid on that interminable summer vacation, I’d ask, “Are they pickles yet?”

Are they teachers yet?  How quick can a yogi be transformed into a teacher?  The first Teacher Training I took was 25 hours.  I graduated with a certificate but didn’t feel ready.  I taught, but felt like we were all just going through the motions, a pantomime.  So I took another Teacher Training.  And another one.  And then Kundalini showed me the way.  Thank you, Baba.

Now you can make pickles in a couple of hours.  And they’re good!  Is this “new” and “improved?”  We have to turn out teachers this way.

So I was looking for words.  I could see the whole of what I’ve birthed, but how to describe it?  “Streamlining” is what I’ve been calling it; it’s the word that Chiti (consciousness) keeps giving to my mind.  So I went to the thesaurus.

Modernize, update — yes, I’ve modernized our Teacher Training, but that could easily mean dumbing it down.  Modern doesn’t always mean improved.  And yoga doesn’t honor the updates; it honors ancient knowledge and systems.  Yet the sages, through the ages, came up with new and updated ways of teaching the ancient truths.  So this is modernized and updated, yet the essence is unchanged.  A tricky thing to accomplish.

Reorganize, rearrange, reschedule, move around, reorder — yes, I reorganized the schedule, moving things around, putting them in a new order, so all these words are true.  Yet they don’t cover an essential piece, which is that the new order gives new meaning to all of it.

Revolutionize, reform, restructure — ah, this is closer.  It is a revolutionary new way to approach it, but it’s not new information.  It’s revolutionary information, spinal release, tail-to-top, core opening, but we already knew that.  Yet the re-forming of it, into a new structure, gives it a new power.  New potential.  Amazing new vitality!

Make more efficient, sort out, simplify — check.  More efficient, as in getting there quicker, with less energy expended.  Making it easier and more accessible.  Simplifying the profound.  Isn’t that what shaktipat is all about?

Develop, upgrade — yes, these are best.  Develop means that everyone who has ever taken one of our programs has contributed to our latest development.  Upgrade means you get a new system, one that does the things you already relied on and yet offers more.  Easier.  Quicker.  Cheaper.  And still deep and profound.

While all this describes our YTT Upgrade, it is now extending itself to all our programs.  The force of upliftment is pouring into all our programs.  “Faster, easier?  Of course,” says Shree Kundalini.  “Deeper and more profound?  Piece of cake!”

woman surfer www.geckoexpedition.cz

I am looking forward to this.

This California girl that I am, I know how to ride a wave.

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

By Karuna Beaver

carolyn_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.

IMG_8210

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

International Yoga Day

A9R558D_redThe first International Yoga Day is happening June 21 — are you in?  This great day was approved just last December by the United Nations General Assembly, only three months after India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, made an address, saying:

Yoga is an invaluable gift of India’s ancient tradition. It embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfilment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well-being. It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature. By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help us deal with climate change. Let us work towards adopting an International Yoga Day.

While this international recognition of yoga’s footprint worldwide is important for us, for Shree Modi it’s also a personal statement.  His political success in India comes from his spiritual depth as much as his political acumen.  Having spent some of his young adulthood as a wandering sadhu (holy man) in India, he chose to serve in the political arena and worked his way up from the grassroots level.  His leadership draws on India’s deep spirituality, contributing to his popularity as well as his political agenda.  I was personally in Varanasi last winter when he and spent several days on a project to clean the Ganga (Ganges) River, doing some of the shoveling and scraping himself.

The yogic basis of his leadership has been recognized by “Hinduism Today,” an international magazine, who just named him the Hindu of the Year for 2015.  Every prior recipient of this prestigious honor has been a Guru, not a Prime Minister!

Shree Modi recommended June 21, the summer solstice (in the Northern Hemisphere), as the day of the year with the most light.  It’s also an important time for yogis in India, coming near the beginning of the monsoon season, when hunker down for three months of deep sadhana (practices).

The FIRST International Yoga Day, June 21.  Can we make a big bang, one that will reverberate until the Fourth of July?  Click here to tell Swamiji of your plans or ideas.

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.

 

Taking Your Yoga Practice with You on Vacation by Yogeshwari (Lissa) Fountain

Yogeshwari (Lissa) Fountain

Yogeshwari (Lissa) Fountain

One of the very first things I discovered after completing Teacher Training and committing myself to Svaroopa® yoga full time, was that every day felt like a vacation because my practices gave me an “internal getaway.”  My practices became an oasis in the middle of life’s daily challenges. I didn’t need to get away anywhere to feel better, or more peaceful, because yoga was doing that for me, and it was all happening on the inside. Still, vacations are a treat: a change of scene, a break from our routines, and a chance to have extra downtime with our loved ones.  For me this doesn’t mean I take a break from my yogic practices, because they help to support my inner state, and provide a continuity of Self within the changing landscape of a vacation.

Whenever I go away, I know my practices may be shorter than usual, so I try plan for that, as I know that my time with family and friends IS the yoga practice I am blessed to be enjoying. And still, I want to take care of myself, so I come prepared with my supplies: my travel pouch with timer, iPod, ear-buds, battery operated candle, puja photos of the Gurus, and a travel size Guru Gita. Then there is my shawl, and two blocks. If I am driving, I bring some blankets, of course. I know every hotel has an easy chair and pillows for meditation, and with blocks and a wall and chair, I can make any asana practice happen! Setting up my “yoga space” goes right along with unpacking.

My vacation yoga might be as simple as the “20/20/20” formula: morning Ujjyai Pranayama, meditation, and asana (sometime during the day). But usually I can fit in a full meditation period (20 minutes Ujjayi and 40 minutes meditation).  I’ve learned that if I ignore my body at the expense of keeping up with everyone else’s plans, I’ll feel it.  So I’ll often do three deeper poses (with variations),  such as Kurmasana, Pigeon with Dhanurasana leg, and JP.  Even if it’s a quick Magic Four, even if it’s just a Lunge, don’t neglect your body

And we must take care of our minds. Quiet mind is a portable yogic state that comes along with you on vacation. I repeat mantra silently, practicing japa. The Self never leaves you, because it is You, and everyone else. The good news is that if you have an established daily yoga practice, you have plenty of Shakti (energy) reserves to carry you through on the days when you can’t fit in much practice. In this way, vacations become a time to bring the whole of you into your life, in new and exciting ways.

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.