My first Board meeting was the in-person Board Retreat five years ago, when Rama Berch informed the board that she would be taking sannyasa vows and becoming a monk. She was interested in teaching more about meditation, the Guru and Grace and wanted to open an Ashram. The board decided that it would be best if there were two organizations.
There were many factors that played into that decision. One factor was giving Swamiji the freedom to establish the Ashram exactly as she wanted without having to fit within the confines and structure of Master Yoga, a Yoga Teacher Training school. Swamiji could create an organization focused 100% on knowing the Self. While this gave Swamiji an open slate, it also meant that she started from scratch and created an entirely separate administrative and board structure.
Another factor the board considered was the interests of different students. There are so many different practices to choose from within the yoga system: poses, breathing practices, chanting, meditation and worship. Five years ago, the idea was that we could best serve the students by separating them into two camps: poses and breathing versus meditation and Guru.
It was obvious, almost immediately, that it was not possible to divide the interests so simply. Within a few months I was leading a committee that was charged with deciding where we draw the line in the sand between Master Yoga and Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram, specifically about where Vichara Therapist Training should be taught. Vichara is a key tool for teachers to have to deal with students’ minds; however, it is a practice focusing on the mind! Additionally, in my personal practice I found the line between the two organizations difficult to create. I remember re-taking Foundations a couple of years ago and having a very difficult time not diving deep into meditation during the whole program – was this a Master Yoga program focused on poses or a Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram leading me to my Self?
Not only is it impossible to divide yoga practices into two groups, it doesn’t serve the students we originally identified, those interested in only some of the practices. Having two organizations adds complexity and duplication. And specifically for Svaroopa® Yoga, a yoga practice based on a lineage of Gurus, it is important to have the flow of Grace flowing through all practices. Whether Swami Nirmalananda is your Guru, or you prefer to see her as the originator of the poses and breathing practices that you love, having her oversight will make the yoga more effective for everyone.
So yes, this is a big change. Five years ago we made the decision to be two but now, today, the way to best serve you is to be one! I’m looking forward to this change and to be better able to serve the growing community of Svaroopa® Yogis!