Category Archives: Svaroopa Conference

There or Here – Do More Yoga! by Rob Gold

313There’s not one thing in my life I’d rather be doing this weekend more than attending the conference – but I won’t be there. A decision about something else in my life makes it (seem) undoable. A few months ago, about the time I was asked to write this series of pre-conference articles, I learned that my dog had lymphoma. For those of you who have experienced cancer, you know the only certainty is that you don’t know what, when, where, why or how things will change. It’s the great unknown and in that is an equally great lesson in surrender.

I couldn’t imagine leaving her in the care of others if she was sick or dying, nor can I leave her with others when she’s healthy – she’s just not that kind of dog. So, I decided not to decide, or rather to let her condition determine if I was coming or not. The good news is that, three months after her diagnosis, she is as vibrant as ever, thanks in part to some steroids and dietary changes.

I know I’m missing an incredible opportunity to connect this weekend, but I am also blessed with opportunities to connect in my life just as it is; right here, right now. There are always opportunities to do more japa, more seva, reach more students and know more of the Self. After all, what did Swamiji do when she was the only Svaroopi? Or what Muktananda do when He was not in the presence of His Guru? This is the beauty of the teachings: it’s ALL there, ALL the time. Sure, there are people, places and things that make it easier to connect, to accelerate ones spiritual journey, but we can access it any time we chose to direct our free will in that direction.

Will I miss the bhav of sitting in a hall filled with hundreds of Svaroopis? Yes.

Will I miss being in the presence of Swamiji and all the delicious programming? Definitely.

Do feel regular deep openings and connections to the Self from my life and environment here on Maui? Absolutely. After all, chanting the Guru Gita on an empty beach at sunrise  is an experience beyond what I could have imagined when I lived on the mainland.  So who’s to say it’s not actually the right thing for right now?

Seva Is Yoga by Rob Gold

My introduction to seva came from an Indian professor I had in college. She taught on the


topic and the responsibility of and value in serving one’s community. It was lost on me at the time.  However 20 years later, I remember what she looked like, subtleties of her accent and even the spelling of her Hindu name; clearly she had an impact on me.

The second time I encountered seva was at my Foundations training at Kripalu. Swamiji divided our large group into teams of sevites and sent us out to help with the housekeeping, kitchen and operations of the Center. Who knew vacuuming could be such

bliss! Gone were the superficial and selfish reasons for doing things; for that one hour my job was to vacuum carpet and focus on why I was doing it. Time flew by and I was amazed at how full I felt and how much I had accomplished in such a short time.

My third and deepest encounter with seva came from readings in the Bhagavad Gita during Swamiji’s Yoga Business Skills course. Time and time again Krishna provides the teachings and illuminates the path for Arjuna until finally he gets it. I often feel like Arjuna:  lost, confused and without focus, but once I recognize my state (with a small “s”), I have these collective experiences to draw upon and apply to my life. My version of it is this:

  “When you are stuck on yourself, go be of service to someone else.”  It works every time, usually in ways and to a degree I could never have imagined.

Such is the case with the upcoming Conference, now just 1 week away. I feel like Arjuna slumped in his chariot, burdened by my churning mind, caught in the turmoil of why I can’t go — and why I need to. But what if I went not for me but to serve others and assist with the event? Swamiji always builds in ways for us to be of service and the Conference is no exception. Vacuuming the halls of Kripalu was a profound experience before my spine opened, before I knew about seva and its power, so by becoming part of the Conference I’ll get more yoga, more Swamiji, more community and more Grace, all by doing more for others and less for me. Sounds like a pretty good deal, doesn’t it?

So Much Choice, So Little Time by MYF Sevites

349Learning, laughing, chanting, eating, shopping, and doing yoga — what more could you ask for? The Svaroopa® Yoga Conference has it all! It’s only a week away, and it’s not too late to register and find that inexpensive last-minute airfare!

As with all things Svaroopa®, choices abound. You have a choice of workshop tracks: a blissful yoga weekend, meditation in the Ashram track, continuing education updates in the Teacher and Foundations tracks. You could also chose a full-day Warrior Vinyasa pre-conference workshop on Friday and/or a half-day Inversions post-conference workshop on Sunday, both with Vidyadevi.

Choices abound in the shop, with everything that Master Yoga and the Ashram have to support and inspire your yoga practice. Find DVDs, CDs, posters, books, tee shirts and NEW exclusive items only available at our Conferences and special sales on items from Conferences past.

More choices in the popular Silent Auction! Cast your bid on sacred treasures donated by the India 2013 participants, purchased during their pilgrimage: colorful shawls, sweet murtis, Ganga-dipped items and much more. Take home a bit of the Kumbha Mela and Ganeshpuri if you were unable to attend the trip this time.

Photos from the India trip will be projected onto a screen in a side-dining room, and you may well feel as though you are there.  To enhance the visual experience, India trip participants will be on hand to describe their personal experiences. Swamiji will be announcing her plans for the next trip. Perhaps a visit to the “India” dining room will propel you and prepare you to make the journey.

Another side dining room calls out to all Mentors and Mentees. Could you pick your DTS Mentor out of a crowd?  You spent some intense hours together by phone.  What is your Mentor like in person? Don’t you want to put a face to a voice? If you are a Mentor, imagine sharing lunch with the Svaroopis that you have coached into full-fledged teachers!

After seeing photos of India, get a new photo of You! As a Svaroopa® yoga teacher, you should have a new “head shot” every year. This year’s conference makes that easy with a booth featuring a professional photographer. Ladies, pack a scarf in your favorite color!  Gentlemen, don’t forget your favorite teaching shirt!  Then sign up “attendants” to fix your hair and to converse with you during your photo shoot.  Swami Nirmalananda says she always does this to ensure photos with a natural, spontaneous quality.

Yoga is all about you.  This conference is all about you, and the ways in which your yoga organization serves you. It’s all about the choices you make in deepening your experience of yoga, and of your Self. All the choices lead you back to You. Shiva is always having fun being You. Have fun!

Are We Out of Alignment?



Svaroopa® yoga is all about alignment. In every Master Yoga program, you learn how the precise physical alignment provides you with the experience of svaroopa, your Divine Essence.

The Ashram offers Svaroopa® Vidya teachings and meditative practices, focused on alignment with Grace. This empowers you to live in the experiential knowing of your own Divinity all the time.

But on the organizational level, our two organizations and Boards are looking at the question – are we out of alignment?  While we have been collaborating on key courses and events for four years, we are duplicating administrative work in some areas.

These inefficiencies affect our ability to serve you in the most effective way.  With Sharada Macdonald now serving as Business Administration Manager for both SVA and MYF, it has helped to spotlight these areas.

Thus our two Boards have begun meeting to consider creating a deeper collaboration.   Our guiding question is this:

How can we better serve you?

Our organizations, both so focused on your alignment, are also working on our own…. Click here for FAQs about this.



We absolutely need community input on this. Click here to give us your perspective, answering a short questionnaire – 6 questions.  Help us determine what level of collaboration will best benefit you, so we can provide the yoga services and courses that you need and love.

Thank you!


Amala Lynn Cattafi & Shuchi Sue Cilley

SVA President & MYF President

The Ashram Nursery

by Kusuma Sachs

I love plants! You get to know that pretty quickly if you have spent any time at the Ashram or in the Exton Studio. I have plants that have moved from Rehoboth Beach to 3 different living locations in PA, and they are still thriving. One of the sevas I do at the Ashram is taking care of the plants.

African violet babies gather the Shakti

African violet babies gather the Shakti

Because of this seva, the Gardening Team asked me to make African violet babies for a project later in the year! Until they asked, I had never considered propagating anything besides a few stands of philodendron. In addition, I have always felt intimidated by African violets and really had no idea how they grew or what kind of care they needed. The ones I have bought over the years have thrived by watering when dry and not letting water get on the leaves. Despite being intimidated, every time I go to the local plant store and see African violets that are in the ‘marked down section’ (what I call the ‘infirmary” which really means they are on their way to being compost if someone doesn’t save them soon!), I buy them and save them. Periodically, when I need a plant fix, I come home with a few slightly sickly-looking African violets, which flourish beautifully in the Shakti-filled Ashram, even when I forget to water them or when they dry out in the sunroom quicker than I expected.

At first I was reluctant: Really?…all you have to do is plant a leaf and it will propagate into a whole new plant? I was an intimidated yet curious indoor gardener. I went online and found a plethora of YouTube videos on propagating African violets. You can propagate not just from leaves, but also by splitting the plants up; they grow babies all by themselves if left to their own devices. In one video, there was a pathetic-looking 3-inch pot of straggly African violet, but it turned out to be 7 separate plants growing in that one container. I was fascinated and motivated!

I excitedly took on the challenge, bought supplies and happily collected leaves from the 15 or more plants around the Ashram. I made up special potting soil and filled plastic serving cups gifted by the Ashram cooks. I stuck one leaf in each of 60 cups, adding a bit of rooting compound before planting them. They looked just like the YouTube videos!

Jade, too!

Jade, too!

The baby nursery continued to grow over the next few days until I ran out of African violet potting soil. Then I remembered that the second part of the memo from the Gardening Team was about making jade plant babies. We had one jade plant in the Ashram, so now there are about 20 potentials. I went on YouTube for these guys, too. You can propagate jade plants from the stem, or a leaf, putting it halfway in or even on top of the soil. I tried a bit of each.

The original plan was to set up grow-lights and a timer in the basement, for the babies to incubate, so I bought the supplies. The day I planned to set it up, Swamiji walked by the nursery on one of the dining room tables (my workstation) and said, “Let’s keep them here so we can see them and let them fill with Shakti from the Ashram.” Yea! They get natural light here, and we stop by and visit them throughout the day. They are doing well so far. The African violet leaves have not withered, and the jade looks healthy, although the leaves on top of the soil don’t seem to be doing anything.

You will be able to buy these Shakti-filled African violet and jade Ashram babies at the Svaroopa® Yoga Conference in October. By then, I expect many miracles will have happened with these babies. Ashram guests, residents and staff stop by and spend time with them many times a day. When I stop I feel just like a parent looking at their kid through the nursery window. These babies are in their own yogic way very fascinating and full of potential!