Tag Archives: Yoga

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.

ATT DTS: Just Do It! by Ruth Brown, CSYT

ruthbrown

Ruth Brown, CSYT

Once upon a time, completing an ATT program required that you do homework, and then send that homework to a Teacher Trainer for review and feedback. But now there is DTS.  I just completed the ATT 262 Treating Pain immersion, and I’m finding that the DTS calls have helped me use the “therapist” title with confidence.

For this DTS there are homework assignments followed by phone calls, and my first assignment was to give five pain treatment sessions to a single client. After our second DTS call, Matrika Gast (who serves our Board in the Publications role) heard from one of my DTS partners that I had “pain clients coming out of the woodwork.” So Matrika asked me to share my success story.

To begin to attract pain clients I found that you must become a walking, talking billboard for “what you can do for them.”  You do so gently and with care… sharing how others have benefited from what you do. To make your current yoga students aware of your pain therapy training, you can say “This therapy may be something that you and/or someone you know could use. Feel free to share this with those you know who are in pain.”

I also created a small, purse size flyer that to pass around to those whom I would talk with. The front side includes vital details about pain therapy the Svaroopa® yoga way, and back side includes a couple of testimonials from existing students/clients.

The next thing to do is list people you know … no judgments… just write. Then take that list, beginning with those you think are the least likely to be interested in what you are doing, and contact them, sharing with them what you are doing. Proceed through your list with enthusiasm and sincere caring about what you can do for them or for those they know.

With my first pain client, even though there was that tinge of anxiety, I felt assured and confident in the training I had received a week or so before. Yep — I read and reread my ATT “blue sheets” before each session, and I completed all five sessions with that client as well as my first DTS report before the first DTS call.

I so appreciated that call. While it is good to receive feedback on your sessions, it is just as informative to hear what others are doing.  Invaluable, in fact. Kusuma, our ATT DTS Mentor, gently guides us through evaluations of our sessions, encouraging where appropriate and asking us to re-think our sessions where necessary.

My second assignment was exciting because I was working on a real person with tightness, pain and cramps. The assignment helped me gain confidence in my ability to write a plan and tweak as needed in the moment, especially when my client seized up with a cramp and pain. Our training met reality in this second assignment. I was working with “real folks” who were not loosey-goosey yogis! I laughed at myself several times along the way, noting how many times I was holding my breath!!!

After the second DTS call, there were massive revelations. As slowly as I thought I was proceeding in a session, on this call I realized that I needed to move forward even more slowly…right up there with watching paint dry! With this guidance, I’ve found after several more sessions that my clients feel the difference, the shift from pain to relief.

After a couple of weeks providing pain therapy to clients who are non-yogis, I realized that I could almost repeat the Treating Pain training with a whole new perspective. The partner pairing in training with fellow-yogis can give us a false sense of movement.  On the DTS calls, it helps so much to hear that other budding therapists are working through the same issues.

Through this process, I have personally experienced some significant openings, too. How much fun to realize that the leg you were holding in Alternate Leg was REALLY not softened and released!

Deceptively Easy, Amazingly Successful by Abby Chemers

When I enrolled in ATT 262 Treating Pain last March, I was daunted by the prerequisite of giving 50 Embodyment® Yoga Therapy sessions in the 6 months before the course. I am a rule follower, and I could see that I needed to give two Embodyment® sessions per week. Figuring that out was my way of keeping on track without getting anxious or worried, but I still didn’t know exactly how I would get my existing students to make appointments for these private sessions.

My first approach was to give Embodyment® sessions to friends and family.  Travel to Hawaii and then to Australia in March gave me that opportunity.  On my way to Australia, I had a few days with my daughter and son-in-law in Hawaii. A busy and active couple, they were more than happy to accommodate my need to give them sessions! And the same was true of Australian friends when I arrived there.

When I returned home, there were real surprises. People just showed up at the right time.  For months I had wanted to be able to give an Embodyment® session to a student who came regularly to class and had been getting spinal opening, but still had some pain. I knew an Embodyment® session would help her move through her partial opening to full release, but I had been unable to persuade her to schedule a private session. Then one day she showed up to class and was the only student as her usual classmates were playing hooky.  So I was able to give her Embodyment®. At another time, a young woman who was getting married and had a lot going in her life showed up as the only student for a class, and she enjoyed a soothing and restorative Embodyment® session with me instead. It was a blessing for me as well as for her!

Then for the next six weeks, clients just arrived on my doorstep. To use an old idiom, it was as though they just came out of the woodwork! I was surprised, because usually it seems my regular class students simply can’t afford more yoga.  Yet they began to schedule Embodyment® sessions to celebrate their birthdays or because, unfortunately, they hurt themselves and came in to help an injury heal.  A couple of these clients came four times.  Other clients were brand new and had found me through my website. Many found me simply by word of mouth, and one week I had 4 brand new clients.

It was curious. It seemed to me that the universe knew I needed students and sent them to me.  Instead of being a daunting task, this ATT prerequisite turned out to be a blessing on many levels. It brought in money, and helped to offset the cost of training.

But giving these Embodyment® sessions regularly, on a range of clients with different needs, was great to do as well. They benefited me as a therapist as well as my clients. I had already been giving Embodyment® sessions for at least 3 years, and I was very comfortable with my body mechanics. But through giving 50 sessions within 6 months, Embodyment® became easier and easier for me.  I became able to stay in stillness. I became more effortlessly able to sink and settle into my own bones and spine. Quite often I would get release in my own body.

Settling in is so important, I found, in Treating Pain as well. With experience and regularity come ease and comfort, and my confidence as a yoga therapist grew into greater and greater ease. Now I am grateful for the required preparation as well as the training itself, in which I, myself, experienced such profound healing as well as learning that will serve my clients with more — and More.

New Building for Downingtown Yoga & Meditation Center

downingtown yoga bannerWe’re almost there!  Our Board of Directors has been working for almost a year to select a building, negotiate a contract, complete the property inspections and arrange financing.  We are in the final steps to get to the settlement table. Of course, nothing in real estate is final until it’s final, but we wanted you to know that we’re almost there.

Why do we need a new building, you ask? Well, for you, of course!

In our 2012 Board Retreat, we developed a 10 year plan for expanding the Ashram, as well as a succession plan for after Swamiji is gone. We announced our plans in an article, including:

[Swamiji] along with the Board, is focusing on the sustainability of her teachings… We have the house in Downingtown, plus we will likely purchase an additional building to house our public programs and provide resident housing… and guest accommodations for visiting yogis.

Our plan is to create teachers rather than to accumulate assets; it is about the sustainability of the teachings, not of the buildings. Yet we need a building in which to base the next level of meditation teachings. We had planned to accomplish this by 2014 and we are realizing that dream on time.  Especially with the tasks of the Reawakening and the Consolidation, this is a major accomplishment.

We have looked at many buildings that didn’t have the right mix of space for DYMC (Downingtown Yoga & Meditation) along with apartments for residents and guests, and this one does. The ground floor is very large, for satsangs, events and yoga classes, which we need because our current DYMC location, right next door, is bursting at the seams. The upstairs apartments in the new building are currently rented, which helps to support the building while we grow into it.  We will be renovating and moving into the building in stages, and will keep you informed every step of the way.

Teacher Trainings will not be held in this location, as the Desmond offers a better experience for groups needing full service for YTT, retreats, etc. This building is intended for setting the Shakti, in a location that Swamiji feels very strongly about, and will be dedicated to creating community in the form of residents and guests, drawing from local community and Shishyas worldwide. Our local community is growing, as is our online following both nationally and internationally. There is a hunger for the deeper teachings, which is the way Swamiji serves both you and the greater yoga community, who thirst for that “something more” that we Svaroopis experience and understand.

In order for us to carry out Swamiji’s vision, and the vision of the organization going forward, we need this additional space. A space of our own that can hold the Shakti she pours into it. We are so thrilled to be able to provide our community with this space to grow. It is YOU who is making this possible, and it is for YOU that Swamiji, your Board of Directors, and all of the Trainers, staff and sevites serve.

OM svaroopa svasvabhava namo nama.h

On the Road by Rama (Ruth) Brooke

Rama Brooke

Rama Brooke

I use the 20/20/20 (20 minutes each) protocol for Ujjayi Pranayama, asana (poses) and meditation while traveling, although lately I’ve been placing more emphasis on the breathing practice. Travel depletes prana (energy). The extra Ujjayi helps to support the other two practices as well as my adjustment to the slightly “off kilter” routine of a busy travel schedule. I fit an additional 20 minutes of Ujjayi in the afternoon or before dinner, whenever possible. I also do it before falling asleep at night.  I don’t rely on this as part of my daily practice because I don’t know how long I’m actually doing it, but I find it helps me to drift “inward” and tune out any exterior noise or stimulus.

On a recent family travel vacation, we were packed into small hotel rooms with little opportunity or floor space for my usual asana and meditation practice. For my daily practice I relied on Ujjayi Pranayama and a series of “bed” poses beginning with Alternate Leg, Alternate Leg – Diagonal or Supta Janushirshasana, and then to JP with a variation, which I learned in ATT 411:  Deeper Yoga, which I love because it gets the lumbar spine too.

I woke up early and didn’t want to disturb anyone else in the room.  I did Ujjayi sometimes for an hour or more until others began to wake up and then I would finish with the poses before getting up to shower. In the afternoons, we would return to the hotel before dinner so I did another 20 minutes or more of breathing practice. I also did the bed poses again before falling asleep at night. I was amazed at how well this practice served me during the two weeks away from home. I had more energy than ever before on such a trip, and my body stayed open and healthy. I attribute this mostly to the consistent practices I do at home, especially meditation, which sustain me wherever I am. I also attribute it to the long Ujjayi sessions during the trip that allowed me to tap into and maintain my pranic (energy) reservoir.

This travel vacation was a “once in a lifetime” type of experience — one to cherish.  My more common travel experience is often by plane, which makes packing blankets and blocks an inconvenience, but I do usually stay in a hotel or somewhere that has floor space and furniture to substitute for props. My favorite travel asana prop is the firm seat cushion from a couch or a large overstuffed chair. One or two of these make a great base for poses such as Kurmasana, Baddha Konasana, Seated Side Stretch or even Virasana Seated Side Stretch (turn the cushion, if it’s rectangular, to sit on the short end, and use throw cushions or bed pillows to prop knees).

Without blocks, I do Dhanurasana Leg for a Lunge substitute, lying on a platform of the same firm couch or chair seat cushion(s). When time allows, I add some standing poses or the Standing Vinyasa. Jathara Parivrttanasana with deeper variations is a great way to end the session and add in a little more ribcage or lower spinal opening.

For meditation, I like to sit on the floor, when possible, in Sukhasana. I will use the same cushion props to create my Sukhasana seat. If sitting on the floor isn’t an option, I will sit in a straight (desk) chair, using a pillow to support the upright position of my spine, and place my feet on the firm seat cushion (I have short legs) on the floor.  This is how I “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.

 

Taglines (Installment #5)

Svaroopa® Yoga: Sutra Based Yoga

flowerSvaroopa® yoga is based in the principles of Consciousness expounded in the sutras. Athletic yoga styles, the sages explain, are preparation for an eventual inner awakening, but Svaroopa® yoga gives you the inner awakening, because it is saturated by the river of ever-flowing Grace.

Svaroopa® Yoga: The Best Comes First

flower4Yoga’s promise is that you will experience the Bliss of your own Beingness. Svaroopa® yoga delivers on that promise from your very first class, creating an inner opening that gives you your own Self: from the first, in the middle, to the last, and all at the same time.

Svaroopa® Yoga: Yoga for Seekers

flower3Svaroopa® yoga is for those who are seeking something that they cannot name. They don’t know exactly what it is they’re looking for. Here is where you begin the path to finding it, the path to your own Divine Self, the path of Grace.

Svaroopa® Yoga: Opening the Doorway Within

flower2Svaroopa® yoga jump-starts your inner evolution, leading to the discovery of who you really are. Grace begins the process, supports you along the way and completes your life’s purpose – the inner revelation of your own Svaroopa, your own Divine Beingness, your Self.

Svaroopa® Yoga: The Yoga of Grace

flower5Others talk about Kundalini; Svaroopa® yoga delivers. Our poses are based in Grace, reliably providing the inner awakening that puts you on course for the highest purpose of human life. No more guessing, no more hoping, no more despair. You can live in the knowing of your own Divinity.

Svaroopa® Yoga: Alignment with Grace

Tail to top, we create the inner opening, inviting Grace to reveal your Divine Self. Svaroopa® yoga gives you the inner alignment you’ve craved all your life, the synchronizing of your individuality with your inherent Divinity.

Svaroopa® Yoga: Melting the Layers

Svaroopa® yoga is going to make you shine. As soon as you decompress your spine, the Grace melts your carefully constructed shell and opens up profound inner experiences. Melt in the glow of consciousness, which is the flow of Grace,                      through Svaroopa® yoga.