Tag Archives: Yoga

YTT Level 4 Reflections by Matrika (Marlene) Gast

Level 4 grads 2

May 2014 Level 4 Grads

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

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

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

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

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

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.

This Stuff Works by Matrika (Marlene) Gast

Marlene Gast

Marlene Gast

Every Sunday when I was very small, I got to sit on my grandfather’s lap while he told me how things work. He described how paper is made from trees ground into wood pulp, how cheese is produced from fermented milk, and how aspirin is made from a substance found in willows. When I got a little older, I received talks on Morse code, soldering and the internal combustion engine. In my twenties when I studied poetry, I learned from my teachers how poetic language works to create a unique world of its own, conveying a particular experience, emotion, vision that tells us so much about our own existence.

At the same time I discovered yoga— a great escape from the rigors of academia. I heard from some of my teachers that yoga could take you to God.  They didn’t say how exactly, and at the time I wasn’t interested in that anyway.  At first I just wanted peace and quiet, but then somehow “deeper” experiences began to happen. When I finally happened upon Svaroopa® yoga, I had become curious about these experiences. What were they? How did they “work”?

In 2005 when I took Foundations with Swamiji (then Rama), I was grateful to receive actual explanations of the workings of Consciousness, reaching right into our human bodies. Swamiji has said that her teachings explain the experiences that we’re having and prepare us for experiencing “more.” Over time it has become clear that Svaroopa® yoga, as it opens us to Consciousness, does so much more than merely working on body, breath, and mind. It invokes and opens up experience of Divine Self, beyond body and mind. Then we see the imperishable radiance of the Divine in everyone and everything.

Through Swamiji’s teachings, at last, I can see more and more how the world works, how life works, how my life has been shaped and what that means.  I see how Divinity is the heart of all we know, all we don’t know yet, and all that is even beyond knowing. For me, that solves a lot of issues.

This is the gift from Swamiji that prompts me to donate to Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram. Of course I am grateful as well for unsurpassed yoga teacher training that has prepared me to do work that I love and for healing that I’ve received in body and mind. But it’s the gift of knowing Self — of seeing how it ALL works — that I cannot do without.

What do you value most? During our Yoga in the World campaign, please join me in giving and express your own gratitude for whatever you have received from Svaroopa® yoga and meditation and the teachings of Swami Nirmalananda.

Click here  to support your Ashram and support your community.

Bringing Your Best into the World by Saguna (Kelly) Goss

 

Saguna Goss

Saguna Goss

My yoga path started with one class each week. After seven years of weekly classes, I had an “a-ha” moment and exclaimed with great excitement and amazement at my discovery, “There is something more to yoga than these poses!”  Now, after diving into the many offerings available for studying Svaroopa® yoga, I can’t help laughing when I share that story.  It seems so obvious. And while I laugh, I am also so amazed. What kept me coming back for seven years taking yoga classes if I thought it was simply rolling around on yoga blankets every week for an hour and a half?

I kept coming back because, even though I wasn’t aware of it, the yoga was changing who I was. Today I keep coming back because I know it is changing me.  The yoga is opening up who I truly am so that I can bring the best of myself into the world and, more importantly, bring my Self into the world.

Over the years there are so many stories of life-marker-poses, where I find myself in a familiar situation but having a completely different reaction: being friendlier to strangers, a nicer driver, less reactive to button-pushing-situations, making better food choices and so much more!  Yoga has changed me so much that it is hard to even remember what it used to be like before yoga. It’s hard to comprehend the amount of change.  And I know there is still so much more to come.

Yoga is changing me and therefore changing the world around me. I am so grateful!  This is why I offer dakshina — financial support for the organization that supports me, for my Teacher and the transformative Teachings that she brings us.  Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram exists solely for our transformation, and we must support the organization so it can support us.  Please join me in making a financial offering so that we can bring more yoga into the world, more yoga that changes me, changes you — and everyone we know and meet, whether they realize it or not!

Click here to support your Ashram and your practice.

The Mystical Teachings Have Changed the Way I Live by Rudrani (Rosemary) Nogue

Rudrani (Rosemary) Nogue

Rudrani (Rosemary) Nogue

A yoga student gave me a greeting card a few years back. It said, “The way you live your life has changed how I live my life.” The way Swamiji gives so generously of the mystical teachings, which she learned at the feet of her Guru Muktananda, has changed how I live my life. And, the way I live my life keeps evolving, the more yoga practices I do and the more I avail myself of Swamiji’s Grace. I couldn’t go back to how I used to be even if I wanted to — which I don’t.

The more I dive into practices and programs, the more I get bite-sized pieces of understanding that guide or push me along to my inner Self. These include practicing and teaching asana and leading group meditations, my own meditation and japa, chanting the Guru Gita and listening to Swamiji’s talks online, the year long course “Guru & Self,” offering seva and taking more training (I recently retook Meditation Teacher Training). Everything I do is designed by Swami Nirmalananda who, along with my own efforts, is birthing me into who I really am.

Back in 1999, when I started training with Swamiji (then Rama), I came to learn yoga poses to teach. But this path I have been given is so much more than what I originally came for, more than I even knew was possible. I have been given mystical teachings that, for centuries, were secret teachings. Having Swamiji as my Guru has put me in the flow of this living lineage, through which the teachings have been passed from teacher to disciple for thousands of years. Swamiji has been charged with bringing the yogic mystical teachings into the world. Mystical teachings are not mainstream; they are not popular and they are not for everybody. But they are for me, and my guess is that they are for you, because you are reading this.

How do I live my life now? I am more ME. I am more present, more aware, more at ease, more kind and more clear. I am more able to be aware when I am not Self and I know how to get back. I am more willing to risk. Recently, after Swamiji’s Shaktipat weekend that I hosted in Calgary, I had my first clear experience of speaking up louder when I was inner connected and teaching a yoga class. Clearly, more of my Self had been uncovered through the mystical mystery of our Shaktipat weekend. This allowed me to be Self-connected and speak out at the same time. It was time to speak up and be heard, and something had been cleared that allowed me to do that.

So now it is time for me to use my stronger and clearer voice to ask you to donate during our April Fundraiser, “Yoga in the World,” to support the continuing flow of the mystical yogic teachings into the world. Please join me and my husband with your donation to support the rare gift of a living, accessible Guru who imparts mystical teachings in an understandable way.  Because this path isn’t mainstream, we depend on donations for one third of the income needed to run SVA. From your deep gratitude and your deeper Self, please make an offering so the Ashram can flourish and continue to offer the secrets of yoga to you and to our community. Click here and make as meaningful a contribution as you are able, to support the generous way that Swamiji imparts the mystical teachings to us.

Considering Seva by Marlene Gast

 

Devapriyaa (Denise) Hills, Seva Coordinator

Devapriyaa (Denise) Hills, Seva Coordinator

Seva — also called selfless service and karma yoga — is described in the Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 3.  In Verse 18 Krishna instructs Arjuna that “’Every selfless act’” is ultimately a way to know yourself as Self, a path to Self-Realization, the purpose of life, the goal of all of the practices of yoga.

I’ve served on seva communication teams since 2008, and this year, since the Ashram and Master Yoga consolidation, I notice a new, powerful synergy in seva. Sometimes it feels as though I’m sailing along on rocket powered wings, both in the seva itself and in the way that seva continues to dissolve lifelong obstructive patterns, opening me inward to Self.

Since our consolidation, expansiveness is enhancing seva teams as well, including leading to the creation of new seva teams.  Seva Coordinator Devapriyaa (Denise Hills) offers this introduction to them:

Two seva teams have just gotten underway. First is the Emcee Team. Bindu (Maureen) Short was the Emcee at last Sunday’s satsang. John Frank, Sri (Sonya) McNeil & Kanchan (Connie) Mohn are also Emcee Team members. Our second new team is the Music Team, who have already brought their offering to Sunday’s Satsang, beginning last week with Vicharini playing OM Nama.h “Sivaya before meditation.

Everyone has one or more talents and skills.  Where would you like to offer your time and talent? It takes only 2-4 hours per week.  You are especially needed for the following:

  •          Web updates (we train you!)
  •          Constant Contact (we train you!)
  •          DYMC cleaning and set up (a local opportunity)

There are other seva opportunities as well. Once you make yourself available, Swami Nirmalananda reviews your skills/interests survey, working with Devapriyaa to find the seva that serves you best.

When you are ready to take on this practice, email seva@svaroopavidya.org.  Devapriyaa will send you a link to complete the seva survey that Swamiji will personally review. When Swamiji suggests your seva, you decide whether it is an opportunity that you would like.  Having assisted many yogis in finding their seva, Devapriyaa says it is “quite beautiful…profound and grace filled…sometimes subtle — a beautiful spiritual practice.”  Let the yoga of seva open you to MORE!

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

Ute

Ute Reeves

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

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

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

In fellowship,

Ute