Tag Archives: Yoga

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

Feeding Vegetarians by Swami Nirmalananda

food3It is one of my greatest pleasure, feeding yogis.  While I had done my stint producing meals as a mom, I never mastered any type of cuisine, not even vegetarian, so it came as a complete surprise that I feel so strongly about feeding people.  At one point, after opening the Ashram, I jokingly threatened that I was going to set up tables and soup pots on the front lawn, so I could feed passersby.  This neighborhood doesn’t have any passersby who would need the food, so it wasn’t a realistic plan, but the urge had begun uprising in me since I took sannyasa (became a swami).

My Baba used to love to feed people.  In the years I lived and studied with Him, I supported the food services, so I was one of the army of sevites it took to feed the hundreds and thousands who came.  Now, following in Baba’s footsteps, I want to feed all of you!  This is actually part of what the sutras document:  the types of things that happen to a yogi doing deep practice:

Jnanam annam — “Siva Sutra 2.9

Pure knowledge is the only real nourishment, that which gives satisfaction.

This sutra explains my experience before I became a swami, an experience that always confused me.  When I ate with people whose discussions left me cold, I ate more food, even too much food, but never felt full.  I yearned for the nourishment of real connection and meaningful discourse.  Once I found that real connection and meaning, in its inner source, it threads through all my discourse, and I am not focused on food any more, except that I love to feed people!  This of course means that writing a blog, teaching a class, holding a phone satsang, sharing a sutra — these are all different ways of feeding you.

I began the Yogi Meals in Exton so I could feed everyone taking the courses then offered by Master Yoga.  We made the meals very affordable, but ended up not covering the costs, so the program needed to change its form in order to be viable.  Still, it meant I was able to offer high quality foods, organic (whenever possible), from our back yard and CSA (in three seasons) and cooked to individual adaptations when needed (gluten free, etc.).

Our meals at the Desmond are the next step in the natural progression of bringing these trainings in underneath the sacred umbrella of the Ashram.  It’s been wonderful to see the effects on the students — less pressure, less anxiety, more camaraderie, more rest at night, and so on.

I’ve recently discovered that some of the yogis are not eating vegetarian at home, so this eating plan is a big event for them.  When (or if) you become a vegetarian, you need to learn to balance your nutritional flow, so I recently prepared this information for the yogis as well as for the Desmond chef:

Your protein needs are fully met at any meal that includes one of the following:

  • Beans (small beans cooked with hing are easier to digest than large beans)
  • Corn and any grain, served in one meal
  • Cheese (for those who eat dairy)
  • Tofu, tempeh or seitan (for those without allergies)
  • Nuts (but you usually need ¼ cup to get enough protein)
  • In addition, protein in present in everything you eat, even fruit!  Read labels and you’ll see you’re gathering protein “points” every time you put something in your mouth.

In addition, we are careful with our full day of lesson planning, to allow for both your eating as well as your digestion.  Here’s how we take care of your belly in a yoga immersion:

Breakfast — usually served at 6 am, which gives you one hour to eat and have a short digestion period.  Eat lightly, as you will be doing some poses, chant and/or meditation, so you need a light belly.

Morning Recess – this is not a snack break, though some snack items are always available to you in the food service area.  You are returning to working in poses, so please limit your food intake.

Lunch — this is a hearty meal!  Around 12:30 pm, you will do japa (mantra repetition) and then have 1:20 for your meal and recess, plenty of time for digestion as well as important “down time.”  Please enjoy to your stomach’s capacity (which might be different than you think it is).

Afternoon recess — around 4 pm, you’ll have a recess.  Usually you have 30 minutes for a real snack, with wonderful treats prepared by our chefs, but please remember you are returning to work in poses again.  Also, dinner is right around the corner.

Dinner — around 6:00 or 6:30 pm, you have 45 minutes to an hour for a light dinner, ideally soup plus a light side dish, so you can eat your fill and still not have too much food in your belly.  It’s important because you’re returning to work with your body again.

OM svaroopa svasvabhava.h namo nama.h

New Retreat Environment by Marlene Gast, Board, VP, Communications

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The Desmond Dining Room

Pennsylvania Svaroopa®  programs are now being held in a luxurious retreat environment. The Desmond Hotel & Conference Center in Malvern provides beautifully appointed guest rooms, dining room, and other spaces, both inside and outside, that form our “temporary Ashram,” in Swami Nirmalananda’s words.

As I write this blog, the ATT 201: Teaching Half Day Workshops course is in its last day in our temporary Ashram. Student Sarvataa Christie has been posting food portraits on Facebook. The vegetarian meals are sumptuous!  Yesterday, another student said, “This is so wonderful, like a retreat even while I’m learning so much. I really needed this.”  The “A” in Ashram is translated as “away from” and “shrama” is the fatigue that can accumulate from the daily routines of driving, working, shopping, caring for others, etc. As 2014 begins, we yogis can all look forward to immersing in that Ashram experience, whether we are in professional teach training or immersing in a program to support and expand our capacity to live in Consciousness. Check out our 2014 Calendar to make your plans today!

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Breakfast at The Desmond during ATT: 201 Teaching Half Day Workshops

The consolidation of Master Yoga with Svaroopa®  Vidya Ashram has been the impetus for this move to a retreat environment. Because Svaroopa® YTT and retreats are now organizationally under the “sacred umbrella” of the Svaroopa®  Vidya Ashram, explains Swamiji, “The Grace flows more powerfully…With your inner processes fueled by Grace, the outer environment needs to be one that provides more support.  We cannot provide a cocoon, nor do we want to create isolation from the rest of life, but we must begin with providing you with shelter and food.”

Now yogis can look forward to freedom from the chores of daily living and more time for deep immersion in the “yoga” of it.  Our new retreat environment will support us as the unfolding of transformation takes place from the “inside-out,” as Swamiji describes it. Especially in Teacher Training, programs have always been immersions, but change and growth have progressed from the “outside-in” — through being taught “breathing practices, poses, anatomy lessons, philosophy discourses, teaching theory and experiential processes,” as Swamiji summarizes it.  This approach enabled us to “get inside.”  Now being trained under the “sacred umbrella” of the Ashram will mean, according to Swamiji, that “Grace creates the inner opening, and then you do the outer work, trying to keep up with the internal shifts that are happening…”

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Lunch: Black-eyed peas, sweet potatoes, and artichoke hearts

Ample support and downtime for this process will be a significant part of YTT going forward. Those of us who fly into Philadelphia will no longer have to rent a car; the Ashram will shuttle you. Instead of rising early to drive to class, all of us will commute in slippers from our hotel rooms to early morning classes; we will be served fresh, hot meals on china in a beautiful dining room, just an elevator ride from the classroom; at evening’s end we need travel only a few hundred feet from class to bed. As Swami Nirmalananda describes, “Lunch breaks can include a nap, some time outside (depending on the weather) or a walk on the hotel’s footpath.  The yoga classroom will be a quiet room during meal breaks, both for yoga therapy sessions with the Trainers as well as for those who might want to do Shavasana, Ujjayi or extra meditation.” And sharing a room with another yogi undergoing the same process offers the support of heartfelt connection.

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Fruit Cup with Sherbet

Swamiji explains that the goal of Svaroopa® YTT is the same as before: “That you get beyond technique and theory, as important as they are, so you experience the ‘yoga’ of the yoga.”  Now, clarifies Swamiji, “when teacher training is an Ashram program, you get the ‘yoga of the yoga’ through Grace.”

Photos from this first week of January plus student comments say it all: The move into our “temporary Ashram” it’s going just the way Swamiji predicted.

Comings and Goings by Devapriyaa Hills, Seva Coordinator

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Devapriyaa (Denise) Hills

There have been so many changes since the Conference in October that it will be difficult to make sure no one is missed.  The consolidation of Master Yoga and the Ashram has changed many sevas & sevites. The list has grown quite a bit since it was last printed. There are new sevites, changing sevas and sevites that are not doing seva at this time. It has been an honor to work with so many practicing the yoga of selfless service. If you notice that a sevite has been missed please notify me at seva@svaroopavidya.org so the list can be adjusted.

Welcome to new sevites and to those that will be contributing in a new way:

  • Bookkeeping – Saguna (Kelly) Goss
  • Documentation Team – Kriyaa (Chris) Godfrey
  • Downingtown Cleaning Team – Kanchan (Connie) Mohn (Coordinator), Sarvataa Christie, Kavi  Peppel, Lisa Spangler, Kalyani Wallis, Tony Stokes and Sarvataa Christie
  • Facebook Team – Ajeet Khalsa
  • File Management – Ekamanti (Diane) Tsurutani
  • Gardening Team – Tony Stokes & Gayatri (Barbara) Hess
  • Protocols & Procedures – Saguna (Kelly) Goss
  • TADAA & SATYA E-Letter – Marlene Gast (Editor), Karuna (Carolyn) Beaver (Assistant Editor)
  • Tech Support Team – Sheynapurna (Sandy) Peace
  • E-Blast Typesetter  – Gayatri (Barbara) Hess
  • Website checker – Pam Church
  • Web team – Prakash (David) Falbaum (Manager),  Vibhuti (Sandy) King (Coordinator) , Saguna (Kelly) Goss, Ron Gladski

Thank you to those who have changed to a new seva, worked on a special project or are not working at a seva at this time.  Your dedication and service has been a gift and is appreciated.

  • Bookkeeping – Amala (Lynn) Cattafi, Padmakshi (Andrea Wasserman), Devaraja (Steve) Thoman
  • Calendar Checker – Prakash (David) Falbaum
  • Data Input – Prakash (David) Falbuam, Sarvataa Christie, Louise Davis and Sally Broadhurst
  • E-Library team – Manisha (Mary Lou) Soczek
  • Ganeshpuri Music School Liaison – Antarajna (Debbie) Mandel
  • Gardening Team – Nancy Chang, Devi (Eizabeth) McKenty, & Tyagi (Tracy) Paul
  • Posting Master Yoga Listings on Philly Area Yoga Websites – Polly DiBella
  • Proofreader – Kanchan (Connie) Mohn, Theresa Morrison, Margo Gebraski & Nora Beckjord
  • SATYA E-Letter Team – Tish Roy
  • Special Events – Vicharini (Su Lee) Chafin, Deborah Woodward
  • Tech Support – Amber Quinn
  • Web Checker – Ajeet Khalsa
  • Web Team – Niranjan Matanich

Audited Financial Statements by Bob Nogue, SVA Board Treasurer

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Bob Nogue

Our annual audit is complete!  Early on, the Board of Directors of Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram made a commitment to maintain transparency about our finances.  An important step in accomplishing this is the independent audit, which we have done annually since SVA was established.  This provides assurance from an independent source that financial statements accurately represent our financial position and that we are following legal and ethical principles in our operations.  Click here for our detailed financial statements through December 31, 2012.

You will be heartened by the surplus our activities have been generating, ensuring that SVA is becominghealthy from a financial perspective.  This contributed to our ability to consolidate with Master Yoga in 2013.  We recognize that SVA’s financial health is thanks to your generosity as well as the paid programs that you attend, plus the immense value of sevites’ support (including our own Swami).  In addition, careful stewardship by Swami, our staff, sevites and Board of Directors is an important building block.

After you have reviewed the financial statements, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Comings & Goings

Welcome to Bookkeeper Peter Mallis

With over seven years of experience, Peter Mallis has joined the SVA administrative staff as Bookkeeper. A Pennsylvania native and new to Svaroopa®, Peter’s background includes working for landscapers, a nursery and car dealerships in the greater Philadelphia area.  He enjoys playing sports, especially golf & baseball, and is looking forward to trying Svaroopa® yoga. He will be working part-time to perform all bookkeeping duties for the organization, which Swamiji and other sevites had been doing as seva.  Peter’s addition to the SVA staff will continue to remove Swamiji from administrative responsibility, opening her (and you!) to more teachings.

Welcome to Staff Yoga Instructor Devaraja Thoman

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Devaraja

Every other week, the on-site SVA administrative staff step away from their computers & meetings for Ujjayi & Shavasana. Ashram resident and Svaroopa® instructor Devaraja Thoman helps them stack their blankets at Downingtown Yoga Meditation Center and leads them through an hour and a half Svaroopa® yoga class. Nearly all the staff is new to Svaroopa®; it’s sweet to see their transformation after each of Devaraja’s classes and to hear them share their deeper understanding of the teachings they serve. Previously based in Massachusetts, Devaraja serves students full time with Svaroopa® yoga classes and yoga therapy sessions at three greater Philadelphia yoga studios, primarily at Downingtown Yoga.

Your New Home Away From Home

After conducting much research photo%2014and analysis into which local center would best support you during your trainings and retreats, we are very excited to announce your new Svaroopa®  home away from home. The Desmond Hotel in Malvern will be hosting you in 2014. An independent, family-owned hotel with a B&B feel, the Desmond is clean, inviting and cozy. You first step into a warm, open reception area desmond2where you are greeted by the joyful, family-like hotel staff and 2-story floor-to-ceiling views of the spacious outside patio. Bedrooms are fresh and pleasant within-room baths and refrigerators at request. Shared rooms feature two queen beds and singles have a 4-poster or canopy king bed. The building has free wi-fe as well as a computer room, swimming pool, exercise facility, restaurant, photo%2013and outdoor walking trails.   

While this would make it a nice place to stay, what really makes it supportive for you is your retreat & training space. Your retreat & training hall is a real room with real walls (not sliding dividers!). While the space is shared with others participating in conferences on the same floor, it is distant from regular hotel traffic and offers around the clock staff  support. desmond1Just outside your retreat & training hall is a well-stocked lounge area where hot breakfast is served in the morning, afternoonsnacks (including hot hors-d’oeuvres), around the clock coffee (including latte/cappuccino drinks), filtered hot and cold water and Tazo teas, soda, juice, flavored water, etc. are served; there are men & women’s restrooms and a spacious charming outdoor balcony with tables. It’s ideal for a retreat environment as everything you should need (including outside access for fresh air) to support yourself is only steps away from your retreat & training hall.photo%208

A special thank you to Master Yoga Board Member, Marlene Gast, for her in depth research to find the most supportive facility for you.