Where Would We Be without Teachers?

ruth rama brookeBy Rama Brooke, SVA Board Member

Contemplating the meaning of our spring fundraising campaign brings up immense gratitude for the current generation! Swami Nirmalananda has written about gratitude, saying:

To express your thanks is one of the easiest ways to melt your heart. To feel grateful is to pause in a moment of sweet surrender…  Yoga says, “Just let go!” Let yourself be overwhelmed by the beauty of the moment.  Give over to the majesty of the space between the ticks of the clock.  Gratitude is one of the best ways to do this.
— Swami Nirmalananda, November, 1996 Contemplation

SV1714_Lineage Fundraiser logo_v1Where would I be without the many teachers who have inspired me along this yoga path? I can think of many for whom I am so grateful. They include my dear friend who gave me her copy of the Primary Practice video tape 12 years ago. They include as well my local Svaroopa® teacher, my Teacher Trainers and DTS mentors. Also included are the many “Guru siblings” from whom I learn so much as we cross these oceans together.

Of course, Swami Nirmalananda is the Foundation, the Essence, the Source. She carries her Baba’s teachings and keeps them alive, as he and many others carried Nityananda’s teachings. Now our newly trained Svaroopa® yoga teachers and Svaroopa® Vidya meditation teachers carry Swami Nirmalananda’s teachings far and wide in today’s world.

Where would we be without teachers!!

Please join me in this yogic practice of gratitude and sweet surrender. Inspire and support the next generation. Donate your one-time gift, or pledge your monthly contribution to our Scholarship Fund. The Ashram’s policy is to allocate 10% of tuitions to scholarships, and your donation will make it possible to expand this.

SwamijiOr contribute to the Swami Support Fund and allow our Guru to focus more on teaching and writing, and less on administrative tasks. This, in turn, supports the next generation, as well as current teachers.

The choice is always yours. Do more yoga!

Pay It Forward

kristineBy Dhairyavati (Kristine) Freeman

My first yoga teacher was Ronna Sanchez. I will be forever grateful for the years of training and personal practice she had done before I ever walked through her classroom door. She offered the Svaroopaâ Yoga Gentle class that my physical therapist recommended, and which I reluctantly agreed to try.

Despite the strangeness of all those blankets, the music (tamboura) and the words (Sanskrit), I was hooked. Lying in that final Shavasana, I thought, “I don’t know what this is, but my body really likes it.” “It” was the flow of Grace — I just didn’t know that yet. “It” was the upwelling of my Self. “It” would heal years of chronic pain and unwind the mental and emotional patterns beneath that pain. Such a gift!

Have you received such wisdom and blessings from your Svaroopaâ yoga practice? If so, you can credit not only your teacher, but your teacher’s teacher — Swami Nirmalananda Saraswati. And you can also credit her teachers, the lineage of Gurus who came before her, including Baba Muktananda and Bhagavan Nityananda.

muktananda nityananda After returning from a recent Shaktipat, I added photos of Muktananda and Nityananda to my home puja. For years Swami Nirmalananda’s photo alone had been the focus of my devotion. It was as if I had compartmentalized her Grace. Then I realized that without her Guru, and her Guru’s Guru, she would not be here to serve us today. And with that I was able to expand my gratitude back through the lineage in a whole new way.

While the teachings are elevated and mystical, the Ashram, Swami, Svaroopaâ yoga teachers and Svaroopaâ Vidya meditation teachers are grounded in the real world. That means there are real world necessities to make the teachings available. And they require financial support.

When you provide financial support to the Ashram, you are supporting the people who support your yogic process: the teachers. Please pay it forward. Join me in making a donation to our Inspiring the Next Generation campaign.  Thank you.SV1714_Lineage Fundraiser logo_v1

The Future of Svaroopa® Yoga

By Prakash Falbaum, PrakashBoard Member

Recently I had lunch with a coworker who does yoga at her health club. Because her yoga teacher had left the club, she was looking for a new one. I suggested she find someone registered with the Yoga Alliance at the 200- or 500-hour level. I explained that would ensure the teacher is qualified.

Then I remembered that Swami Nirmalananda was the founding president of the Yoga Alliance. It’s inspiring to me that Swami helped develop training and accreditation standards for USA yoga teachers decades ago. She led the way for a whole generation of yoga teachers, myself included.

Swami gave me what she was given, the spark that lights the fire of yoga. Initially I had no desire to be on a spiritual path. But by just doing the Svaroopa® practices, I received shaktipat. I received spiritual awakening and everything that goes with it. It inspired me. If I could go to a class and receive this, I knew I needed to become a yoga teacher.

Swami Nirmalananda has also inspired me because she’s done things in the real world, like leading Yoga Alliance, starting an international yoga teacher training program and founding an Ashram. She has shown me that you can accomplish things. And you can do that from a deeper place within yourself.

My primary career is as a product development scientist. I have super-duper busy mind. I used to consider myself an intellectual, able to solve any problem. I was so wrapped up in my ability to think that it distanced me from others, and more importantly, from my Self. Like a fist, my mind used to be so tight it was useless. Because of the Svaroopa® practices and the path that Swami opened for me, my mind isn’t tight any more. I’m more creative and much more open to other people.  As a scientist now, I don’t immediately make my mind up about something. I am open to possibilities I wasn’t open to before. Solutions to problems come much easier than they did before.

I want others to have this kind of experience. So I see the value of providing scholarships for teacher training to continue taking Svaroopa® yoga into the world. If the next generation isn’t trained to carry on, the teachings will die. We rely on the teachers to show us the way. Swami asks, “What if we could triple our scholarship fund this year and make it so much easier for people to come?” It’s a challenge we on the Ashram Board is taking on. We respectfully ask for your help.

It’s also important to support our Master Teacher, Swami Nirmalananda. I want Swami to be writing, teaching and making recordings, not being an administrator. Anything we can do to free her from administrative work helps us become immersed in the One Self being all selves.

SV1714_Lineage Fundraiser logo_v1In our “Inspiring the Next Generation” spring fundraiser, I will be financially supporting those who have supported me, and those who will carry the teachings to new teachers. When you open your heart to donate, you open the door to Grace. I hope you will join me by making a donation that has significance for you, because this is really about you.

For the Next Generation

Peter GallagherBy Peter Gallagher, SVA Board Member

I am one of the few Board Members who has not taken Yoga Teacher Training (YTT). As a longtime student in my local Svaroopa® yoga class, I see what other students get. I am aware of Grace coming to me through Swami Nirmalananda. And I see they are receiving her Grace too. I see it in the ways that they change over time. Their physical changes — better health, more comfort — are visible and important.

But what goes on internally is even more essential, to them and their families, to our local community, and ultimately to the world. Even if they are not yet aware of the uplifting, it’s clear in their commentaries. Early on, their responses tend to focus on physical changes. Later, they experience a deeper internal change.

I see those same changes in myself. I know they come directly from my participation in, and cooperation with, what I have received. It comes from my teacher’s skillful, compassionate in-class guidance. Through my local teacher, Grace comes from Swamiji to my fellow students and to me.

As we students change, I also see how local teachers and our Weekend Workshop Leaders evolve over time. They get better at teaching! They embody the teachings. That embodiment empowers them to communicate much more fully to us students. Our enhanced well-being is good for us, for our families and friends, for our community. Yes, it’s a boon to humanity. Think six degrees of separation. Each of us who has been uplifted spiritually confers a portion of that inner change on everyone that we touch. The benefits spread more and more widely.

We who are Svaroopa® yoga and meditation practitioners stand on the shoulders of those who have kept our lineage unbroken from ancient times, including Bhagawan Nityananda, his disciple Swami Muktananda, and Baba’s disciple — our own Guru, Swami Nirmalananda. Now let’s keep it going.

SV1714_Lineage Fundraiser logo_v1We understand the need to support younger teachers coming into YTT. As established householders, we know the realities of making a living and sustaining ourselves and family. We who are already established as householders know what the next generation of Svaroopa® yoga teachers face as householders.

To inspire and prepare our next generation of Svaroopa® yoga teachers, we as a community need to support the Ashram and to support the upcoming generation. Expanding our ability to provide scholarships to students in financial need can only happen through the generosity of those of us who have already received so much.

In short, the future of Svaroopa® yoga and meditation needs your financial support. Please join me in contributing to our spring fundraiser, Inspiring Our Next Generation.

The Subtle Force Within

karunaBy Karuna Beaver

I used to practice an athletic yoga style, with a forceful Ujjayi Pranayama. It kept you breathing through the exertion. Taking my first Svaroopa® yoga class, I was surprised at the soft and subtle Ujjayi practice. I was used to forcing my breath, sounding like Darth Vader. I didn’t know then that the Force was within.

While I loved my earlier yoga practice, it didn’t love me back. Or I should say it didn’t love my back. Pain sent me to yoga classes labeled “gentle” or “restorative.” My first Svaroopa® yoga Shavasana didn’t lay me on a sweaty mat with an arched and achy back. Instead, with legs propped high, my back flattened and softened. I settled into the sound of my breath, and felt a wave of calm wash through me. My body felt the “love.” It still does. I love Ujjayi Pranayama, and it loves me back — and my back!

darth vaderBut now I know Ujjayi isn’t about the love or the calm. It’s about tapping into “the Force,” my own life force. It opens me into the “more” that I am. Swami Nirmalananda and Rukmini Abbruzzi’s recent contemplation article, “All You Need is…” says you don’t need love. Instead, you need Ujjayi Pranayama to tap into your life force and into your greater Essence. I can attest to this, and I imagine you can too.

Ujjayi Pranayama is a simple practice. Anyone can do it. You slightly exaggerate the sound of your breath, while listening to it, you sense the life force that moves through you. Yoga names this force prana. It is the pulsation of Shiva moving within Shiva. It’s a force to be reckoned with. Swami and Rukmini write, “Prana is the cosmic energy of aliveness that underlies everything that exists, including you.” When you are filled with prana, you are aware and tuned in. When your prana is low, so are you: disconnected, in mental or physical pain. Which would you rather be? It’s a no-brainer.

I have been practicing Ujjayi Pranayama for 20 minutes daily pretty much since I started Svaroopa®  yoga more than a decade ago. In times of illness or injury, I have doubled my practice to 20 minutes or more twice daily. It works. It works on levels that I notice and on levels that I don’t yet have the discernment to understand.

_mg_4438Swami and Rukmini write that 20 minutes of Ujjayi Pranayama will balance your whole pranic system. Then you have the capacity to take things in and get rid of what you don’t need. You can evaluate and integrate what serves you. You bubble up with the energy of being vibrantly alive. Sounds like a pretty good trade for 20 minutes of your time each day!

While the benefits of Ujjayi Pranayama are profound, they are just the tip of the iceberg. You feel more alive, tap into your life force and experience the “love” that IS you, your own Self. All in 20 minutes a day. What a simple and profound prescription for a life filled to the brim, a life of knowing who and what you truly are — Shiva. As Swami says, do more Ujjyai.

Inspiring Our Next Generation

amala-photoAmala Lynn Cattafi Heinlein, Board President

“What if everyone was constantly inspiring one another to the highest level of personal expression, the highest level of living, the greatest levels of accomplishment and generosity?  What a beautiful world this would be.”
— Swami Nirmalananda

I look at this quote and am deeply warmed, while it stirs me to ask, “Yeah, what if the world were like this?” But rereading it makes me say, “What can I do TODAY to be this kind of person? What can I do to be inspiring?”

SV1714_Lineage Fundraiser logo_v1Your Ashram Board has been contemplating this question as we look to the future of Svaroopa® Sciences in our world. It comes down to the next generation of teachers. It depends on Swami Nirmalananda, as She is the one who lights the spark, but it is up to us to support their development. How we can support them, while supporting Swamiji in this Divine mission?

Swamiji gives what she was given: the spark that lights the inward path of yoga. She has been doing so since 1983, when she returned home after many years in her Guru’s ashrams.  That flame, the Light of Consciousness, has been transmitted to every student Swamiji has taught and to every teacher she has trained. You know this experientially; there’s no one else who teaches Being and Essence like a Svaroopa® yoga or meditation teacher. All the other yoga systems are worthy of being honored and do great work. But Svaroopa® yoga puts it together in an extraordinary way.

Think about this: If the next generation isn’t trained to carry on, the teachings die.

lighthouse beaconBecause Bhagawan Nityananda knew this, he sent Swamiji’s Guru, Baba Muktananda, into the world to teach. Had Nityananda not done so, our Swamiji would not have met Baba and would not have been propelled to carry on his teachings.  We would not have Her as our beacon of light and knowledge. There would be no Svaroopa® yoga!

This year’s spring fundraising campaign is about our teachers, the people who support you, including Swami Nirmalananda. We are offering two primary categories for donations:

Scholarships — we hope to double or triple our scholarships for 2017

Swami Support — supporting her needs as well as her work in the world.

Of course, you are also welcome to make a General Funds donation. Supporting the Ashram in these ways, regardless of the amount of your donation, is supporting our teachings and teachers.

Please support our Divine mission.  Give so a worthy yogi has access to Svaroopa® Teacher Training. Your donation will support them in becoming the teacher they were born to be. Your donation makes YOU a person who inspires and supports others, just what our world needs.  Click here to donate.

With Love and Gratitude,

OM svaroopa svasvabhava namo namah

Shaktipat Retreat in Australia

Julia Djiac 1409 croppedBy Jayaa (Julia) Djaic

With Swamiji coming to Australia for a Shaktipat Retreat, I knew I would have time to sit in her presence. Looking into her eyes, I would immerse in her teachings — and in her state. Before her arrival, we received information from the Ashram to support us. While I already do the recommended practices, the information still made me feel wrapped in the Shakti, nurtured and cocooned. Something was building inside me. With Swamiji in my life for more than 11 years, I have received the gift of deep Shaktipat many times. Her presence and Grace have transformed my life. Yet this time was different.

Of course, it was different from Teacher Trainings. While they are deep and wonderful, you still you apply yourself differently. Listening to her satsang audios online, I experience great benefit reaching into many layers. It changes my state, keeping me connected and in the flow of Grace. But this Shaktipat Retreat was a deeper way to surrender. And I was ready, more ready than I have ever been. My heart and mind had been working on surrendering into a new level of inner transformation. My inner yearning was much stronger.
blue Kundalini cobraFrom the moment we gathered, I felt cradled. Chanting, mantra repetition, puja and teachings propelled me deeper and deeper. I was being filled from the inside. Each day’s practices took me deeper into meditation. My body was in pain, truly uncomfortable at times. Yet it did not stop me diving inward. With mantra repetition, mantra took on a life of its own. I was drawn downward and inward at the same time. My experiences grew stronger. Previously, such experiences may have prompted my fear. But as Kundalini did her work, my total surrender left no room for fear. And it was wonderful. The anguish and pain that my body and mind were holding onto was purged.

Since I was last at the Ashram in 2016, Kundalini had been working in my body in the form of stomach bandhas (locks). In this marathon of Grace and surrender, Kundalini blasted through my heart and opened my spine in other problem areas. When Kundalini put me into a version of Fish Pose, my head locked backwards. Tongue movements opened my throat wide and breath flooded my body along my spine and into every cell. It was an ocean of breath. It consumed my whole body like a tidal wave. I felt peace, love, gratitude flood in, cleansing and changing my internal landscape. And there was something more that I can’t find words for.

Shaktipat hand on headMy body became suddenly, deeply still. I felt empty and full at the same time, with an energy all around and within me. Intense presence and pressure between my eyebrows worked in my brain. I could feel Swamiji’s presence acutely, yet I felt that she was holding my hand, guiding me gently. The pressure in my head was almost painful, yet there was peace too. I could track the electric blue current sparking in deep brain crevices. I am eternally grateful to be changed forever.  I have been given what I would liken to a new Porsche, filled with jet fuel. Equipped with the tools Swamiji has given us, I am seriously testing the accelerator.

Others report similar transformations. Amanda Cahill says, “There are no words in the human language that can come close to the greatness that I felt during and following the Shaktipat Retreat experience. Two days after the retreat, all I can say is that if I were a battery, I have gone from 25% full to overflowing. Thank you, Swami Nirmalananda, with all my heart!”

Daya Ma Amanda Ahern concurs, “Shaktipat with Swamiji was a life-defining experience. It has undoubtedly opened the door to kindness. And to my SELF — finally! I now have absolute certainty that I love God and God loves me no matter what I think or feel, or whatever else is happening in my life. Thank you is way too inadequate.”

swamijiLeanne Michelle Cox, as well, found the Shaktipat Retreat to be “an amazing experience.” She describes her meditations as “deep, much deeper than before.” She explains, “The Shaktipat lasered in and opened up new areas in my body. Swamiji’s discourses explained things in an easy-to-understand way, making me yearn for more. I left the retreat more grounded, more centered and yet propelled forward like never before.”

“The physical time was only two days,” notes Mimi Saunders. “Yet when I left, I felt a lifetime had passed. I am not the same person. So much gratitude I feel towards Swamiji.”