Freedom from Harm

By Yogeshwari Fountain

It took me years of yoga to discover that physical perfection is not the goal of yoga.  Working on my body did begin a powerful unraveling of tension, but what was buried underneath needed looking at too.  My mind’s reactions and fears were blocking the light of my inner radiance from shining through.

Fortunately, yoga offers ten lifestyle practices, specifically designed to help you unveil the consciousness that you are.  They empower you to live more consciously with others as well as with yourself. The first and most important of these is ahimsa: non-harming or non-violence.

I always considered myself a kind person, trying to be nice to others, even holding my tongue when angry.  Unfortunately, I discovered that this did not mean that I was being non-violent.  My outer actions did not always match my thoughts.  I found harmful thoughts in there, even when I didn’t act on them. I discovered that sometimes I was kind as a way to winning someone’s approval or to make them feel better — pure manipulation!

This kept my mind churning, obscuring the light of my own Divinity, just as Patanjali warns:

Vrtti-saaruupyam itaratra — Yoga Sutras 1.4
When you are not established in Self-Knowingness,
you are lost in your churning mind.

From yoga’s perspective, non-harming isn’t about being a better person, although you will be.  Non-harming is about quieting your mind, so that you can experience “svaroopa,” the bliss of your own Being.

Yoga says that no matter what kind of day you are having, good or bad, you are still the Light of Consciousness.  This divine energy has manifested all that exists, becoming you: your body, mind, heart and soul.  If you don’t feel fully “divine” as you read this, it’s because your mind limits you so well that you cannot catch it in the act.

Yet, after a yoga class, you feel more open, relaxed, even blissful.  This is the real you, hidden just beneath all the stuff you get caught up in.  Unfortunately, after yoga, it doesn’t take long for your mind to kick in again, to throw you for a loop.  Noticing how quick this happened to me is how I realized I was ready for the other yoga practices:  meditation, chanting and paying attention to how I treat others.  This dimension yoga is opening me to a richer and fuller life.  And to the deeper dimensions, the mystical dimensions, within myself.

It’s simple, but not easy. Practicing non-harming is most challenging in relationships.  When your buttons get pushed, how do you react? By practicing non-harming, you learn to respond to a situation or person, a response that comes from a deeper place inside. Swami Nirmalananda describes what happens:

“The light of your own Being arises from its source, spills into your life, and fills your relationships with light, love and joy.”

The ancient sages knew this, which is why they made ahimsa the prerequisite before teaching their students anything else. It was the first step for becoming a yogi. Whether yoga gives you a perfect body or not, ahimsa gives you a quiet mind.  Peaceful, free from the confusion and darkness that has been covering your heart. In the process of discovering your own Self, your inherent Divinity.

Let each day begin with the vow: I will do no harm.

The Liberating Power of Words

niranjan-yogaatthewellBy Niranjan Matanich & Swami Nirmalananda

One day at work, I watched my supervisor go into his supervisor’s office. I just knew he was going in there to talk about firing me. I was sure of it. As the morning went on, I was increasingly more sure of it until I was almost in a panic attack. This, of course, was not true. I was not being fired. I actually have no idea what they were talking about. It was all made up in my mind.

As a yogi, I’ve become reflective and aware of my mind, so I was able to trace my thoughts back.  I could see an underlying sense of unworthiness, a sense of not being good enough, which gave rise to words in my mind.  Those words gave rise to the thought that I was going to be fired. It affected my whole day but it wasn’t even a reality — except in my mind. This is the power of words.

170112-swami“The truth is that words have power. The words others say to you, the words you say to others, and the words you use on yourself – they all have power.”  — Swami Nirmalananda

This is easy to see in daily life. Someone is rude to you and you have a reaction; it can affect your whole day or week.  Maybe even years later, you remember it and still it affects you.  Or someone tells you that you did a great job and you have a reaction. These are obvious ways words affect you.

The sneakiest words that affect you, though, are the words you use on yourself. Like my story about being worried that I was being fired. Before I started practicing yoga, I would get caught up in a situation like that and never even know it. I would be so blinded by the power of the words that I wouldn’t identify that it was my own mind creating my experience.

170112-pic-1Words are powerful. They keep you bound to feeling inadequate and not good enough. They keep you from knowing your true worth, your inherent Divinity.  They hide the mystical reality within you, which is you.  Yoga calls this, your “Self.”

Thankfully, yoga has many ways of dealing with the mind. In fact, all of yoga’s practices deal with the mind: asana, pranayama, mantra, self-inquiry, and meditation all help you with your mind. The practice that directly targets the way you use words is called japa. Japa is repeating a sacred mantra, out loud or silently within.

Just like words can make you feel small and limited, a mantra reverses this power of contraction, to liberate you. Both the meaning and the vibration of the mantra are liberating.  Especially when you have received an enlivened mantra from an authorized teacher.  Mantra reverses the contractions in your mind so that you can experience your true worth. Through repetition of a mantra you replace self-destructive words, so you begin to live from an inner depth that is beyond your mind. When you live from that depth, your mind will no longer harass you!

Swami Nirmalananda says, “You become a light unto the world, with the light of your own Divinity shining through a purified mind and heart.  This is yoga’s mysticism, revealed.”

You are freed from the world created by your mind.  You discover that you are more than you think you are. So much more…

Finding the Joy in Life


mati-gilbertby Mati Gilbert

For many years of my life, I seemed to go through life by rote.  To keep myself on an even keel, I made it my responsibility to keep others happy and content.  While I was good at taking care of others, I was missing the inner joy.

When you make others into your reason for living, you are in your small-s self.  Yes, you will always be an individual who needs to enjoy, experience and live in the external world.  This is so important.  But yoga promises that you will know you are also Divine — your own capital-S Self — which is already inside, just waiting for you to find it.  Everyone has the Self inside.

Why do you have the friends you have today?  Probably because they make you feel good — they let you know you are special.  They like being with you, sharing a common bond.  Yet have you ever felt alone, even in this loving, sharing group?   I remember feeling this: it seemed everyone was interacting except me.  That evening I opened a book on yoga at a random page.  It explained why I felt that way.  I had lost my Self — my inner knowingness.  Feeling needy, greedy, scared and alone are indications that you need to do more yoga.

You ask, “How do I find my Self?”  The easiest gateway inside is by repeating mantra, especially the mantra you get from a Master.  Such a mantra is called “enlivened,” vibrating with the power of revealing your own capital-S Self.  It will take you deeply into meditation.  Mantra and meditation are the tools to finding your own Divine Self.

Once you find your Self, you become consistent in your internal knowingness of your Self.  Once you know you are divine, you may still have the same friends and accomplish the same things — but you do it from a very different level within.

Swami Nirmalananda translates Shiva Sutra #1.18:

Lokaananda.h samaadhi-sukham

A yogi who knows the Self experiences the sweet bliss of the Self in every location and situation, and shares it with others.

treeCertain yoga poses specialize in developing your physical sense of balance.  Once you begin to meditate, yoga provides you with an inner balance as well.  The goal of yoga’s practices is to make you one with Self.   Your inner Self is found in the deep center of your being, which is the source of balance.

Yoga changed me.  When I started doing yoga poses, listening to yoga chants (especially the Guru Gita), and started meditating, I began to enjoy doing everything.  Yoga changed my mind.  When my mind became under the influence of the Self, I changed.  When I changed, so did my respect for and interactions with others.  A diligent yoga practice did this and made me appreciate being a yogi who knows her inner Self.

Life changed —  I began to feel joy in doing things in my daily life.  When I am secure in knowing my inner Divinity, my joy is contagious.  I want to share the sweet bliss of the Self in every location and situation with others.

OM svaroopa svasvabhava namo nama.h

To your inherent Divinity, again and again I bow.

The Light of My Own Being

By Niranjan Matanich

My mind has tormented me all my life, as far back as I can remember. Everything can be going just right in my external world but my mind tears me apart. Thoughts of being a failure, incessant worry that things are going to go bad or reliving past things that were painful — I’m sure you’ve experienced some of this yourself. At some point things got so bad for me mentally that, out of desperation, I decided to try meditation. I had tried everything else.  Drugs, alcohol, food, sex, sleep, religion and on and on. No matter what I tried I could not escape my mind.

In 2001 I started to meditate. I was given a mantra and a simple instruction to repeat it silently with my eyes closed. I was naturally drawn to the mantra I was given and it didn’t take long for me to begin to see a change. I found I was not reacting as much as I had in the past, I found that I had some space between my thoughts and within those spaces I began to feel ease. I began to feel that things were going to be ok and I even began to feel some happiness and joy. I didn’t know it then, but in those spaces I was experiencing the light of my own being.

Swami Nirmalananda says:

The light of your own being arises from its source….

only when you have cleared the pathway..your mind.

lake-and-mountainsIt’s like looking at a lake that is perfectly still. You can see the reflection of the surrounding scenery and, when you looking into the water, you can see through the surface into the depths of the lake. When the surface of the lake is disturbed with a lot of waves, the reflection is distorted and you are not able to see into the depths of the lake. This is how your mind is. The light of your own being is always there but you cannot experience because of the erratic nature of your mind.

When you begin meditating, you start clearing away all the sediment your mind has created. You begin to still the waves of your mind to see into the depths of your being. I practice meditation in the Svaroopa® Vidya tradition. Svaroopavidya is a Sanskrit word meaning the “experiential knowing of your own being.” It’s so easy to meditate in this tradition. It’s so easy to have an experience of your being, the essence which is behind your thoughts; it’s not theory, it’s experiential. It’s easy because the practices have been passed down through generations of teachers with full realization of what they give their students.

Over the years that I have been practicing meditation, I find that I’m living from the depth of my being more and more. I’m not saying that my mind never torments me anymore because it still does occasionally, but that’s not where I’m living from anymore.

OM svaroopa svasvabhavah namo namah

To your Inherent Divinity, again and again I bow.

Mystical Moments

mangala-head-shotby Mangala Allen

Have you ever been in a flurry of activity and suddenly found yourself experiencing a magical moment? These unexpected moments cause you to pause, your heart fills to overflowing and your love knows no bounds.  You want to feel like this all the time.  Mystical moments can be fleeting or they can expand to fill your life.  Yoga is the science of living the mystical reality all the time.

You think that experiences like these come from something external to you, something that affects how you feel.  But that’s not true.  Your overflowing joy springs from deep within your being.  It is your pure essence, your Self, rising from within.  Yoga develops your ability to draw from this wellspring anytime, anywhere.  Yoga abounds in ways to cultivate your capacity to live in this mystical experience in every moment of your life.

Yoga slows you down so you can find your Self in the midst of the frenzy.

Everything changes after that! — Swami Nirmalananda

When you are doing, doing, doing all the time, there is no time to stop.  But stopping is what it takes to find your Self, giving you the ability to enjoy all of life without being caught up in it.  The whirlwind of activity you often find yourself in can be exhausting.  Simply taking some time out to breathe can be a mystical moment.

Right now, notice how you feel.

Now breathe slowly in… And breathe slowly out…

Again, breathe slowly in and slowly out.

One more time slowly breathe in and out.

Pause and notice how you feel.

Has something changed?

This is a taste of what is to be revealed when you stop.  Yoga is not about continuous movement!  Or an impressive and athletic body.  Yoga is about finding your Self.  Svaroopa® yoga is slow yoga.  It helps you slow down and experience the world you live in.

ozarks-cavernLast weekend I visited a dear friend in a small town in Arkansas.  It was as if I traveled into a magical dream.  I was transported from city life to small town life in the Ozarks.  Vistas of mountains and waterways filled the scope of my vision.  The air was so pure.  I slowed down and took time to really breathe.  We visited caverns deep within the earth.  They reminded me of the beauty that lies within each of us.  I saw beauty in all the people I met, each one the Self, vibrantly alive.  I took pause in the mystical moments arising and acknowledged my Self, the Self.  I felt extremely connected to everyone and everything.

You can read this story and think, “I need to visit a small town.”  Or you can even think you need to move to a small town.  When you operate on the idea that experiences like these come from something external to you, you get trapped in manipulating the externals.  I guarantee you that, if you visited or moved to a small town, you could take your stress with you.   The point is something more…

The caverns deep within the earth reminded me of the beauty that lies within each of us.  I took pause in the mystical moments – not in the beauty of the caverns.  I recognized the inner arising and acknowledged my Self, the Self.  This is why I am fascinated with my yoga practice.  My practice provides me inner awareness that fills me and radiates into the world.  It gives me a new way to be.

You can use your yoga to discover mystical moments inside.  They become so plentiful that they become your life.  A inner fullness giving you a new life, one that does not collide with the frenzy, but flows with it.  It’s an incredible ride!  You experience all that surrounds you with enriched sensitivity and respond with unconditional love and gratitude for all.  There is no better way to live.

OM svaroopa svasvabhavah namo namah

To your inherent Divinity, again and again I bow.

Don’t Settle for Less

yogeshwari-fountain-anjaliby Yogeshwari Fountain

No matter what style of yoga you do, you will leave class feeling better than when you walked in. And if you look closer, there’s something else happening as well.   It gives you all the benefits of an exercise class, but it does something more. Yoga points you inward.  It slows you down.  It focuses your mind, calms your breathing and draws you deeper inside.  Whether you realize it or not, yoga is giving you your own Self.

I teach Svaroopa® Yoga, a way to use your body as the entry point to inner change and transformation. This works because your body is more than merely physical matter; it is made of Consciousness, the essence of all there is.

In Svaroopa® poses, there’s no forcing or pushing to “make the pose happen.”  Instead, your body is well aligned and supported, a compassionate precision which fosters the unfolding of a stage-by-stage progression of internal changes.  You rest in a space of grace. The poses provide a laser-like decompression of your spine, melting fears and resistances away. When your body is tight, without even realizing it, you feel small and contracted.  Especially when your spinal tensions release, your mind and whole sense of self expand into an internal spaciousness.  Yoga calls this an experience of capital-S Self. These inner openings are amazing!

Swami Nirmalananda describes it this way:  “The most powerful changes are on the inside, the opening of your heart, your mind, your experience of your own inner divinity.”

Yoga expands you beyond your mind’s limited idea of who you are, opening you to a deeper level within yourself.  As your spinal tensions body dissolve, your mind becomes quiet and something else opens up inside.  I remember my first experience of this at the end of a long Shavasana (yoga’s relaxation pose).  I was floating within a space inside that felt bigger than my body on the outside, being aware of both at the same time. This made me wonder,  “Who am I, beneath the layers of my persona?”  While I was still being “me,” including being a mom, wife and daughter, in some deep place within, I knew I was more. I had found “svaroopa,” the Divinity of my own Self.

grand-canyon-yogeshwariOur world is full of natural and man-made wonders, but nothing can compare with the inner realizations of a yogi. These can be revealed within the stillness of a yoga pose, studying the ancient texts and, most powerfully, through meditation. When I first looked out upon the Grand Canyon years ago, its great silence and depth took my breath away. I felt so small in the face of its enormity.  Now, when I sit in meditation, I settle into the space behind my mind and experience that spaciousness, quietude and depth.  The difference is, I am not looking on the outside.  It’s a big difference.

Sometimes yogic realizations blossom forth from within when you least expect them.   You may think you understand something with your mind, but there is always more to discover — beneath the surface of your mind.   As Swamiji says, “The most powerful changes are on the inside, the opening of your heart, your mind, your experience of your own inner divinity.”

As amazing as the yoga poses make your body feel, don’t settle for anything less than the inner blossoming of your own Self.   Then you will know yourself in a new way, with clarity, freedom and joy.

OM svaroopa svasvabhava namo nama.h

To your inherent Divinity, again and again I bow.

Mystical Changes Just Happen

mangala-cayla-allenBy Mangala Allen

Yoga is mystical. When you practice yoga something happens. You begin to change.  It’s not just the many health benefits or reduced stress and anxiety levels.You do gain a greater ability to focus and overall improvement in your health, all of which is pretty straightforward. But there is something else at work here, a mystical dimension.  It’s changing my life in a fascinating way, coming from my experience of my true Self emerging from within.

tempBefore yoga, I was searching for something that could fulfill me. “If only I had this or that,” I thought, “my life would be perfect and complete.” It never was. Even when I got what I wanted, I eventually lost interest. Of course, when I didn’t get what I wanted, I kept trying until my enthusiasm waned. Either way I chased after what I thought would make me happy.

Once I tried to meditate and my mind would not give me a moment of peace. Where was the glorious experience I expected? I felt defeated and went back to the chase.  My teacher, Swami Nirmalananda says, “You do not have to travel across an ocean to find an environment that will trigger your experience of the sacred. Find it inside. Do more yoga.”  Discovering yoga’s true purpose was a welcome turning point in my life.  It’s true that your teacher appears when you are ready to receive what she has to give.

I was attending a Svaroopa® yoga program when I first heard the words: “You are divine! Everyone is!” I was intrigued. I had never thought of myself and everyone else in this way. I wanted to know more.

The Svarooopa® Sciences have given me a way to explore and gain a greater understanding of this truth. It’s amazing how it all comes back to delving within. It is inside where we encounter our deepest blessing, our Self. We recognize the Self – being all selves, and awaken to truly appreciate the wonder of existence.

Yoga makes you ready for meditation.  When I learned meditation from Swami Nirmalananda, I found the easy way to experience my own divinity. Each meditation makes you more deeply saturated in your divinity. This suffuses your life with infinite gratitude and unconditional love. This is mysticism, the mystery unveiled. Powerful and wonderful changes occur.

ruby-red-slippers-oz-wikia-comYoga has shown me how to slow down and how to stop looking outside myself for fulfillment. I feel like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, clicking my heels together saying, “There’s no place like home.” I have found my home within me.

When I sit and meditate I experience the sacred. When I open my eyes I am ready to fully embrace life.

To your Inherent Divinity, again and again I bow.

Stages & Goals of Life

mati-gilbertI grew up in a small coal mining town in Pennsylvania.  I didn’t know that we were poor.  Except for a couple of families, everyone I knew was poor.  I never felt deprived of food, clothing or shelter.  My life was neither sad nor happy — it just was.

Once I moved away to a bigger city, I was too busy just making a living and taking care of family.  But somehow very deep in my being, I knew there was SOMETHING MORE to Life — something I was missing.

The ancient sages of India say there are four goals in life:  fulfilling responsibilities, creating and utilizing wealth, enjoying pleasures and ultimate freedom/enlightenment.  There are also four stages of life:  student, householder, retiree, and renunciant.  Together, these provide a useful overview of life:  where we have been, where we are now and where we are heading.  There are patterns in the unfolding of our lives, just like seasons in a year.

In each stage of life, you experience all four goals of life, yet one becomes the focus.  Swami Nirmalananda describes it this way:

swamiHow beautiful that the four stages give you a chance to focus on each of those strands in sequence, yet without losing the whole.  You could think of it as a balanced life – to enjoy pleasures while being careful with your money, fulfilling your responsibilities, and developing your spirituality.  It’s a rich and full life.

As a student, your focus is on learning your responsibility to family and society, yet you live within your allowance and enjoy activities.  Yet there are times when you wonder, “Isn’t there something more?”

group-photoAs a householder, you ensure financial security for your family, handling many more responsibilities, all the while enjoying some pleasures.  Still, there are times when you wonder, “Isn’t there something more?”

As a retiree, you focus on pleasures, still having responsibilities to others and managing your money for a comfortable retirement.  And there are times when you wonder, “Isn’t there something more?”

As a renunciant, your focus turns to this question, “What is the something more?”  You still participate in life, with responsibilities as well as managing money, and you still get to experience pleasure.  But the external world does not have the same appeal any more.  You turn your attention inward; you are ready to discover who you really are.  The Self.

Life must be lived.  In your first three stages, spirituality takes a back seat.  In the last stage of your life, it becomes the most important thing.

I was born wondering, “Isn’t there something more?”  In my first two stages of life I felt something was missing.  I had no idea what it was, the feeling just hung somewhere in the back of my being.   It wasn’t until my third stage of life that I found yoga, first yoga poses and then meditation.

Now I am so very grateful that yoga is here, both for me and within me, always.  With my developing spirituality, I am now leading a more balanced life.  It is, as Swamiji says, a “rich and full life”.

namaste-handsOM svaroopa svasvabhava namo nama.h

To your Inherent Divinity, again and again I bow.







The Mystical Stones

by Yogeshwari Fountain

i-cant-get-no-satisfaction-rolling-stonesRolling Stone magazine ranked “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” as #2 of the 500 greatest songs of all time.  Why?  It puts words to a profound mystical dilemma:  everyone is hungry for more.  Why? Because, well, no thing truly satisfies.

Trying to satisfy yourself with more food, more information, more relationships, more stuff and more distractions is a fruitless endeavor.  It leads to the same dead end over and over again.

Before I found yoga, I did want more in my life:  more peace, less physical pain, and a deeper understanding of myself. It was only yoga that gave me all of that.  It gave me more than I even knew how to ask for.

Yoga teaches that what we’re truly looking for is inner nourishment, a profound spiritual fulfillment. Yoga’s ancient sages promise  you the experience of the still center of your own being.  When you mistake yoga for an exercise system, you might not notice how it works.  Yoga gives you something that exercise does not. It’s an inner process that unfolds, even while you think you’re trying to perfect your pose.

The sages gave us an integrated system of living, by harnessing your body, breath and mind for the ultimate in spiritual upliftment.

dsc_0616-croppedJnaanam annam — Shiva Sutras 2.9

Inner knowing is the only real nourishment, that which gives full satisfaction.

[rendered by Swami Nirmalananda]

This inner knowing is the experience of your own innermost essence, your own Divinity. No amount of food or other things can fill you in the same way.  The continual pursuit of outer experiences isn’t anything like the satisfaction of discovering the “you” that you are, beneath the surface on which you usually live.

While our consumer culture “can’t get no…” yoga frees you from the neediness that the quest for external satisfaction demands.  I had to do “slow yoga” to find it.  It was Svaroopa® yoga that made that clear to me, giving me poses that are a gateway to the inner knowing of my own Self.

Using well aligned and supported yoga poses to release deep tensions, starting at the tailbone and extending through your whole spine — I’d never felt such blissful peace before.  When your spine decompresses, your mind becomes quiet. But the unexpected surprise was that, the more yoga I do, the more I am interested in studying yogic philosophy, chanting, meditating, and serving others.

yogeshwari-fountain-anjaliThe mystical discovery of my own Divinity has fueled a new way of being and of living in the world.  Now I don’t look for satisfaction; I carry it with me everywhere I go.

OM svaroopa svasvabhava namo nama.h

To your Inherent Divinity, again and again I bow.

Yoga: The Time is Now!

mangala-head-shotBy Mangala Allen

What better time to begin doing something to enhance your experience of life? Of all the things I have tried in my life, yoga sustains me like nothing else. My yoga practice keeps me steady and even-tempered on the inside as I navigate the busy world around me. Ever since yoga found me, my life has been getting better and better.

Some people are drawn to yoga for help with physical, mental or emotional discomfort. Some are looking for meaning in their life. Whatever you want, yoga gives you more than you could ever imagined. This is because you are more than you think you are. And more than you imagine yourself to be.

Yoga mystical effect is the revealing of your Self to yourself.  It has a way of peeling back the layers of self-doubt and fear to uncover a vibrant, radiant you.  The ancient sages guarantee this by their insights, their teachings and their blessings to us.  But you have to do your part!   Swami Nirmalananda describes this:

Harness the power of your own will – choose to grow and change.

You must make an effort or it will not happen.

The time is now.

Most people think of yoga as the athletic practice of poses. It offers many types of physical practices.  Some are fast or hot, and may twist you into a pretzel. Others are slower and you use props in the poses, like chairs, blocks and blankets. The yoga style I practice and teach is based in spinal decompression, making me able to release and lengthen the muscles attached to my spine. Svaroopa® yoga’s spinal release allows my spine to be supple. It heals what ails me and improves my ability to move through my day and my life with ease.

Yoga’s transformation happens on the physical level, but also through every level. As the poses relieve tensions, aches and pains, you find your mind calm. As your mind becomes calm, you are no longer taunted by the memories and anxieties that have nagged you for so long. You begin to find time in your life to pause and breathe.

Yet yoga promises even more. Yoga promises you will know yourself as the vibrant, radiant being that you really are.  Your essence shines from a deeper level within, drawing you toward meditation.

mangala-meditatingLearning the poses from a teacher makes them easier.  In the same way, the meditation I have learned from Swami Nirmalananda is easy. From the beginning, it is deep and blissful. Svaroopa® Vidya Meditation gives me the experience of my own vibrant radiant me, so I can shine my light into the world. My life is beautiful.

Something happens when you begin to practice yoga. It draws you in and changes you. You look at everything anew. It gives me more and more. My life has been yogified and I bask in the glow.  Step into yoga. The time is now!

OM svaroopa svasvabhava namo nama.h

To your Inherent Divinity, again and again I bow.