Category Archives: Yoga’s Teachings

Our Song of Self – by Deborah Woodward

Forty-six hosts sponsored our Saturday Japathon!, celebrating the Ashram’s fourth birthday.   Across the US, Canada and Europe, Svaroopa® yoga teachers and students joined in our great japa event!

maureenshorttBindu (Maureen) Short reports that in Buckingham PA, following the teleconference call, japa flowed into meditation as part of the regularly scheduled monthly satsang.  Two students who each had recently had surgery both credited japa with helping them through the anxiety before their operations, as well as with being immobile afterward.  Japa comes to them now naturally and automatically.

SandyCourtneyKingThroughout September, Vibhuti (Sandra) Courtney King of Hopedale MA led her weekly meditation groups into meditation with japa. Some of her students purchased mala beads and began doing japa as preparation for their home practice.   This is what some of them said about japa:


When we went from repeating aloud to repeating the mantra silently, the mantra continued on its own, leading me to a very deep place. It was so effortless.

I have never experienced meditation in this way! My mind was still very busy, but the mantra was front and center and very compelling. For the first time, the mantra was more interesting than my thoughts. I feel like I am just beginning to understand what meditation is!

What IS the mantra?! It feels alive!

Yes, the mantra is alive! In our Japathon! celebration, our mantra became a mighty river of Grace, flowing through each and every one of us.

Swami has given us, in 2013, The Year of Japa. Allow this great gift to unfold fully, allow the Grace of the mantra to bring you all the way to your own Self.  Our beloved lineage — of Nityananda, Baba and Swami — is pointing the way: Meditate on your own Self.

Year-Long Programmes Galore

by Rukmini Abbruzzi

RudraI Am “Siva is beginning soon, a foundational course in consciousness, with no prerequisites.  Everyone is welcomed to experience Swamiji’s magical mix of classical teaching stories, psychology and yogic practices, along with the tangible Grace that reveals your own Divinity to you.

Join Swamiji’s FREE Intro call October 16 from 7:00-8:30 pm (Eastern Time).  Click here to get the phone codes.

And (DRUMROLL PLEASE), announcing the title for 2014’s new year-long programme:

Guru & Self
Kamal and Swamiji  Ganeshpuri, IndiaYou need a Guru, yoga says, repeatedly emphasizing this in the ancient texts.  Why?  Explore the mystery of the Guru with Swami Nirmalananda as she explains the pivotal importance of the Guru in our Shaktipat tradition and illumines the secrets hidden in the traditional ceremonies and practices.   Learn how your Guru serves you as a teacher, as a guide, as a mentor, as a role model, as an exemplar and as a mirror in which you see your Self.

Your stories and experiences are an integral part of this course, through the group discussions with Swamiji.  She helps you discover how to serve as an agent of Grace, uplifting others through your sharings, while deepening your understanding of your own experiences.  With each personal story, Swamiji offers teachings and insights that enhance your inner blossoming.  Extra phone conference calls are included in the schedule so you find a time that works for you.

Two enrollment options are available:

Option #1 — monthly teaching articles, audio recordings by Swamiji, and phone conference calls (about 2 weeks apart)

Option #2 — monthly teaching articles, audio recordings by Swamiji, and phone conference calls PLUS a weekend retreat Oct 24-26 2014

Prerequisite:  Shaktipat Retreat OR Shishya Membership

Eligible yogis may join Swamiji on a FREE Intro call, March 15 from 4:00-5:30 pm (Eastern Time).  Click here to enroll and get the phone codes.

Who is “Siva?

by Swami Nirmalananda
Yoga says you are “Siva.  OK – but who is “Siva?  Swami Nirmalananda says, “I had never heard of “Siva when I received the mantra, so I had no idea what it really meant.  I created the I Am “Siva course so you would understand the tremendous meaning of this mantra, to deepen your experience of who you really are.”  Experience Swamiji’s magical mix of classical teaching stories, psychology and yogic practices, along with the tangible Grace that reveals your own Divinity to you.

If you have taken this course before, please know that Swamiji is updating all the articles and audios, plus you are eligible for a specially discounted tuition rate on Enrollment Options 3&4.  The reason is that your participation will not only benefit you, but your previous studies will support the new students in the programme.

Click to register for our free Intro call, October 16 7:00-8:30pm (Eastern Time)

Designed to fill the year-end gap, this course gives you teachings and practices to support you through the holidays and into the new year. Our multi-media format allows you to study at home, preparing for the Weekend Retreat in November, or to choose a level of participation that works with your budget for both money and time.

Give your Self the support you deserve!

Choose from four enrollment options:
Option #1. Monthly Articles (enrollment available all year)
Option #2. Monthly Articles & audios (enrollment available all year)
Option #3. Monthly Articles, audios & phone calls (calls are not recorded)
Option #4. Monthly Articles, audios, phone calls PLUS the November Weekend Retreat

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You’ve Made a Big Difference. Posted on April 6, 2013 by Swamiji

You’ve Made a Big Difference

Your donations to the Ashram in the last few weeks have made a big difference, insuring the continuation of our free programs for the rest of the year as well as supporting me in the service I offer you (in the name of my Baba).

It is traditional for swamis in India to go from door to door with their begging bowl in hand, for their daily meal as well as for donations that give them access to clothing, transportation, medical care, etc. I feel like I’ve made my rounds, assisted so nobly by our Board members — truly model sevites who are living their yoga. Fortunately I make the rounds only once a year for the Ashram, not daily!

Your support has come in donations ranging from $10 per year to $1 per month (which is more than $10/year!), as well as larger sums, from hundreds to many thousands of dollars. Almost 200 of you have sent in donations, about 5% of those whom we serve through our email and website offerings. It is usually true that the few support the many, and in this case, the few are very loving and generous.

It touches my heart to see how you dedicate some of your money to a holy cause – the upliftment of others as well as for yourself. There are many good causes in the world. A number of Svaroopis have recently told me of worthy causes they are supporting — I’m grateful that so many of you have found the Ashram to be worthy of your support.

Your gifts have met and exceeded our net goal of $60,000! The Swami Support and Ashram Essential funds are filled and overflowing, while our Temple Builder fund is at 50%, so we’ll wait for another year on the temple and new furnaces. It will take a few days to do all the accounting and analysis, all in the capable hands of Bob Nogue, our Treasurer, and we will give you a full report soon.

marble-box1We still have a few marble boxes from the Taj Mahal available, so new Monthly Donors will continue to receive this gift through the end of April (as well as current Monthly Donors who increase their gift). In addition, of course, our Monthly Donors take advantage of discounted tuition on all our courses as well as on our upcoming Svaroopa® Yoga Conference, Alignment with Grace in Philadelphia from October 4-6 2013.

The ash in the boxes — what do you do with it? You have choices! You can use the ring finger of your right hand to place a dot of ash between your eyebrows; especially before you meditate, this is very beneficial! You can take ¼ teaspoon and smear it across your forehead, or even more to spread across all your skin for a yogic (naked) meditation! You can even place a dot of it on your tongue!

It’s completely purified (by the fire), and gives you a way of ingesting the mantras and Divine offerings in the yaj~na ceremony. The point is to use it!

Thank you for two things — for the opportunity to serve you in this exalted endeavor (your own enlightenment), and for your support that makes me able to serve you.

With love, gratitude and great blessings,

Swami Nirmalananda

Click here to make a donation in any amount that works for you. || OM svaroopa svasvabhavah namo namah ||

Sacred Ash. Posted on March 29, 2013 by Swamiji

By Swami Nirmalananda

The power of the mantras and the offerings burned in the fire are concentrated into the ash, which is why I brought it home from our yaj~na in Ganeshpuri. This is why the Ashram is sending it as a gift to new Monthly Donors as well as those who increase their monthly gift. It’s about outside and inside.

On the outside, the Vedic fire ceremony or yajña (pronounced yaj-nya or yag-ya) produces the ash. But the fire is more than a simple fire; it does something on the inside. My Baba introduced me to yajña in Ganeshpuri. I sat, completely riveted, for hours every day. The priests chanted the ancient mantras while feeding the flames, which leapt high in the air. I attended many more in my years of study, some of the yajñas lasting several days.

At night, when the Vedic chanting was done, I walked around the fire for hours, repeating mantra silently. The fire burned outside and inside, burning away everything that kept me from God. That is its purpose. That is yoga’s purpose.
The ash is called bhasma (bas-ma) or vibhuti (vib-hoo-ti). Yogis have been using it for millennia. You may have already indulged in the three traditional “Siva stripes across your forehead, as I’ve been sharing this practice on retreats for over ten years.

Simpler, a small dot between your eyebrows supercharges the energy center located inside there. It is often marked with a red dot to honor  the Guru, whose inner seat is there. Using the ash leaves a grey dot, almost like injecting the mantras from the fire into this profound inner center. One of the names for this location is Prayag, where your three spinal currents merge into one that goes all the way up; it is like the three rivers merging at the site of the Kumbha Mela.

Outside and inside…

marble-box1We have only a few days remaining in our fundraising campaign, Making a Difference. Please consider making a difference by pledging your monthly contribution – and allow us to make a difference by sending you a gift of ash, in one of the marble boxes I brought back from the Taj Mahal. Thank you for your support – and for your practices.

Click here to offer your donation, in any amount, as a single donation or monthly gift. If it would be easier, email or phone 610.644.7555. Thank you!

Monthly Donors – please accept our loving thank you for your continuing support. Click here to add to your monthly dakshina or to make any other change. Thank you.

OM svaroopa svasvabhavah namo nama.h

This is Yoga. Posted on February 11, 2013 by Swamiji

NIK9300-150x150We began at 3:30 am, dressing the ladies in their new sarees, in preparation for our Maha-Abhishek, the great (maha) morning ceremony (abhishek) which features the milk-bath of Bhagavan Nityananda’s enlivened statue. A classical devotional practice, this is a taste of yoga’s ancient roots and living practice, honoring the divine in the human.

This photo is from the last time I got to take part in the morning abhishek. I am pouring honey on Nityananda’s head. You can see how alive this “statue” is, especially when the milk residue hides his golden sheen.

This morning, Board members from both Master Yoga and Svaroopa Vidya Ashram joined me in the ceremony. Dean and Shuchi (Sue) Cilley were the married couple officiating, under the Brahmins’ practiced direction. Prasad Joshi, the head of Ganeshpuri Music School (one of the Ashram’s charities) helped with translation and directions in this complex and rich ceremony.

Along with Dean, Shuchi and me, Saguna (Kelly) Goss and Amala (Lynn) Cattafi Heinlein helped pour the milk, curd, honey, sugar, rose petals and water over Bhagavan’s form, followed by drying him with soft towels and smoothing frangrant oil all over his golden body.

The process continued with layers of shawls, leaf garlands and flower garlands, and candle flame ceremonies with the drum and bells thrumming through the whole temple. An ecstatic crescendo after 2 hours led to a parade of devotees coming to greet Nityananda in the new day, with Dean handing out prasad (blessed food) to each one.

Then we gathered again, with everyone on retreat, for a final arati (candle flame ceremony) and chant. It felt like it lasted lifetimes, yet was over in an eyeblink. The process and the result are indescribable, yet we spent almost 2 hours discussing it later in the morning. To have the experience and to understand your experience – this is yoga.

Three Ways to Make a Difference. Posted on February 1, 2013 by Swamiji

You make a difference in the world by simply existing.

Beyond that, your choices and actions make a difference in the world, sometimes for the good of all and sometimes (unfortunately) in a different direction. Over time, especially when you count in yoga-time, your choices and actions come from a different place inside, so everything you do is an offering to others, an offering to the world. Then you make a difference in the world through your actions, in addition to the difference your presence makes.

When you measure in yoga-time, the next stage is that you get past the “doings” and return to the power of presence. Your own presence makes a difference. You know this when you sit with another person who is having a difficult time – just being there with them helps.

In the same way, your participation in the Ashram makes a difference. Whether you “do” something or not, your interest provides a type of support. When you come to a program or avail yourself of our many online services, your readiness to hear the teachings is the magnetic force that draws them out of me. If you’re not there, I have no reason to teach. When you come, you let your Ashram and you let me make a difference in you, which then makes a difference in the world. It’s wonderfully interwoven, completely tantric*!

Your donations are an integral part of this interweaving. Because I bring these teachings into the world, I must work within the structure of the world. That means there must be buildings, electricity, internet connections, etc. Your contributions make me able to write talks and sutra* commentaries instead of answering the telephone and update the website. Your interest and your financial support are both essential parts of the equation that empowers me to serve you.

In 2013, our Board is focusing on three fundraising arenas:

Outdoor Temple – we are going to build a big gazebo in our back yard for a statue of Shiva, to create an outdoor temple and surrounding garden. We also need a long overdue upgrade to our 30-something heating and cooling systems.
Swami Support – you empower the Ashram to provide for my personal needs as well as the staff who support me in providing the many teachings and services I am honored to offer.
Ashram Essentials – to support our many free programs and the infrastructure that houses them.
Make a difference in my ability to serve you and others. Click here to offer your donation…

With love and blessings, Swami Nirmalananda

*tantric – interwoven, sutra – aphorisms from yoga’s sages

Happy Diwali to You! Posted on November 14, 2012 by Ashram

Last night, we celebrated Diwali at Downingtown Yoga Meditation Center. First, we chanted to Lakshmi then, as we basked in Sri Lakshmi’s blessing, Swamiji illuminated Lakshmi’s subtle energies and the Diwali story of Lord Rama’s return to his kingdom. Afterward, we chanted again and enjoyed a delicious meditation lit by the room’s many candles and the light of the Self. The very sweet night ended with yummy prasad generously provided by Chinmayi (Celina) Sochaczewska and Connie Mohn.

Share in the celebration by enjoying these photos from the evening (with a small sweet, of course!) and, coming soon, Swamiji’s talk on Lakshmi and Lord Rama, a special prasad for you.

Please click on the photos to view the “Sakti-filled show.

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India: Seeing YourSelf In Everyone. Posted on November 8, 2012 by Svaroopa Vidya Ashram

When I look at my photos and the pictures of others chronicling our experience at Beach and Lake Ayurvedic Resort and Ganeshpuri, I can’t stop grinning. It was a wonderful, sometimes challenging, experience which I remember with delight. I continue to be touched by the unending kindness of the people who welcomed us and helped us along the way, including Rosie and Yogini and their helpers, all the staff at the resort, and the multitude of strangers that showed interest in us on our way to and from the Puja House and the temples. Even the taxi driver who took me on my shopping excursions was ever the patient gentleman. Swami Govindananda was so generous with his time and with the many gifts he gave to us. I think of him often and especially when I wear the lovely rudraksha bead he gave me. Shri Prasad Joshi and the two Ramas (forgive me, but I don’t remember their names) who joined us from time to time at the Puja House were also very hospitable. Swami Sadananda was most gracious in granting us an audience. Dr. Subhash was informative, charming, helpful, and fun to talk with. The Ayurvedic clinic therapists and assistants were professional, yet friendly and cheerful. Nor should I neglect a grateful mention to Ganesh for carrying us to and fro without complaint on his massive back. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of companion yogis and yoginis to share this experience.

My experience was much enriched by the presence of both Swamiji and Vidyadevi. Vidyadevi is a graceful, compassionate, and natural-born teacher. I was always riveted by the lessons and stories, and I purely love Swamiji’s laughter which communicates such joy. It was a great privilege to meet her, and she warmed my heart. On reflecting on what I’ve written, I believe that it’s the people that I will remember most fondly about this trip.

I am grateful to Swamiji more than I can say for all she has done directly and indirectly on our (and my) behalf to make this such a positive, memorable, and transformative journey. Thank you so much.

Monika Schultz

Stopping the Chant. Posted on March 30, 2012 by Ashram

I love the mind! I got to see again exactly how it works this morning when, around verse 100, I had to stop the Shishya Guru Gita chant. I was playing the harmonium and leading the yogis (those here in Downingtown and those on the phone with me) in the chants – and an alarm started going off. Because I had earlier heard a fire alarm beeping (presumably needing a battery), I realized it could be a malfunction, which could mean we’d be blasted with overwhelming sounds within a minute or two, and perhaps even having firemen or police show up a few minutes later (we are next door to the police station!).

It turned out to simply be an alarm clock – easy to find & fix, and we were back to the chant within 60-90 seconds. The most interesting thing was watching how my mind dealt with the whole process. While immersed in the chant, the inner intoxication had an avenue to pervade my mind; this is the power of svadhyaya and this is one of the many reasons why my Guru urged us to chant this text daily.

Then I had to use my mind to track the beeping sound, assess it’s meaning and possible danger, and find a way to deal with it. My mind turned outward to accomplish the task, but the bliss never stopped filling it from within. The source of bliss never shuts down – but do you allow it to fill your mind? Chanting the Guru Gita will teach you how to do this, and how to use your mind without losing the bliss.

with love and blessings, Swami Nirmalananda