Monthly Archives: March 2019

Yoga is More Than Asana

By Swami Nirmalananda & Rukmini Abbruzzi

You are so much greater than you could ever imagine!  Yoga’s sages say your inherent essence is the whole of Divine Consciousness.  How great is that?  Yet your Divine Essence is hidden within and must be unveiled. The human condition is that you don’t know your own Self.  The ultimate task of every human life is to discover who you really are.  Yoga’s stated goal and purpose is to unveil your spiritual greatness to you.  The sages gave us the asanas (yoga poses) as a way to start that process.

While recent research studies prove yoga’s value, those studies are not proving that yoga is better than exercise. Sometimes exercise beats out yoga in the studies, though sometimes yoga beats out exercise.  Sometimes they come out the same. Research proves that exercise gives you 90% of yoga’s benefits because they are studying exercise-oriented yoga styles.

But what if your yoga is a spiritual practice?  Researchers haven’t studied Svaroopa® yoga, so they haven’t compared spinal decompression to exercise.  They haven’t compared the bliss of the Self to the bliss of jogging.  Even if they do begin these comparisons, they’ll probably continue to measure physical and psychological benefits, not spiritual progress.  Yoga’s stated goal and purpose is to unveil your spiritual greatness to you.

The true value of Svaroopa yoga’s poses is found in the inner opening to your own Divine Essence.  Fortunately, the same poses free you from pain, open up your breath and heart and give you a new lease on life.  But their true value is their spiritual power.

While you can use the blissful baby steps of Svaroopa® yoga poses as an entry point to meditation as well as work on your mind and heart with yoga’s many powerful techniques, there’s more available. Svaroopa® yoga is all about your spine because of the meditation energy that arises through your spine.  It is because this uplifting energy flows upward that you have to sit up.  Get your spine vertical.

Your own inner power of revelation, the energy of your own enlightenment is arising within you.  Called Kundalini in Sanskrit, it has been sparked awake by the Grace that underlies and infuses your practices.  This is the gift that Swami Nirmalananda brought from India and passes along to us.  If your goal is a spiritual goal, if what you want is liberation, this energy of upliftment will carry you all the way.

Along the way, this Divine inner arising expands what you get from yoga exponentially.  Amazingly, meditation will fix your body, open your heart and transform your mind, while it gives you your own Divinity.  You can have it all!  The goal is greater than merely the physical and psychological benefits yoga poses offer.  The goal is your own Greatness.  And with the Grace of your Svaroopa practices, your goal is guaranteed.  Dive inside and discover your Self.

Excerpt from Asana, Mind & Grace, originally published in April 2016

Creativity & Its Source

By Swami Nirmalananda & Rukmini Abbruzzi

Musicians, artists and writers base their livelihood, even their life, in their creativity. Yet everyone is creative, even if you don’t think of yourself that way. For example, coming up with a solution to a problem is creative: that moment where you think, “Oh!  I know what to do about that.” That aha moment is an inner arising; it bubbles up just as joy and happiness do. You have an amazing potential hidden inside you.  So how do you tap into that potential and become more creative?

You currently use your creativity in a limited way: to plant a garden, to decorate your home or your body, or even to bring a new life into the world.  Creativity is blissful!  This is why there are so many arts and crafts stores with so many options for you to explore and enjoy.

Rukmini remembers how much her children loved to be creative:  “They’d come home from pre-school with more drawings and paintings and macaroni art than could ever fit on the refrigerator, excited and happy to share each one with me.”  Do you remember the joy and pride of showing your mom, ”Look what I made!”  Being creative feels wonderful, because in your own small way you’re being Brahma.  You’re experiencing the flow of Consciousness, being Shiva and manifesting something from your own being.

Swami Nirmalananda says, “When my Guru was living and teaching in Los Angeles, we held many programs on creativity, which were well attended by actors, screenwriters, producers, cinematographers, musicians, set designers, etc.  The famous and the wannabes came.  They wanted to tap into their creativity and Baba showed them the way to the source of their creativity — inside.”

Your Svaroopa® yoga and meditation practices progressively dissolve your creative blocks.  Energetic blockages in your spine keep you from your own creativity and worse, keep you from experiencing the source of your creativity — your own Self. Especially once Kundalini is awakened, your yogic openings clear the way for your creative capacity to blossom forth from within, along with the radiance and bliss of your own being.  Meditation is particularly effective because it is the direct route to your own source, plus it clears and reconditions your mind, so the light of creative consciousness can shine into your life and into the world.

Don’t allow yourself to get sidetracked along the way.  It’s easy to lose track of your goal to know your own Self when a solution to a problem, an idea for a song or other creative impulse bubbles up during your meditation.  Your mind has a catcher’s mitt, so you start catching the arising bubbles, which makes your meditation be merely about your life, a way to solve problems or make money.  This is a trap.

Remember the goal — to know your own Self as Consciousness-Itself.  Meditation will take you all the way in, but you have to put down your catcher’s mitt and meditate longer.  Get past the rising bubbles of creativity to find the source they’re coming from – your own Self which is Consciousness-Itself.  You will not only get one answer from there; you’ll find all answers there.  You don’t merely have the capacity to be creative for a few moments.  You are the Source of creativity itself.  When you base your life and being in that inner reality, you live in an endless flow of creativity that never dries up.  You won’t have to wait until you meditate.  You will live in the experiential knowing (svaroopavidya) of your own Divine Essence.

Originally published August 2015

The Yoga of Grace

By Swami Nirmalananda Saraswati

Once I received initiation from my Guru, the fire of yoga began to blaze within me.  I wanted to surrender to this inner flame, and learned how under my Guru’s watchful care and guidance.  Kundalini taught me about core opening, through the physical movements (kriyas) she prompted in my meditations.  My gratitude will never end for what my Baba gave me.  He was one who could give the gift of enlightenment!

Yo’vipastho jna-hetushcha — “Siva Sutras 3.29

Only a yogi with mastery over the wheel of energy is capable to enlighten others

Along with this inner awakening, He taught me to trust what Kundalini brought forth within me.  Every time I had a doubt about a new level of inner opening (and I had many doubts), He reaffirmed for me that I could trust the arising of Consciousness within me.  By the time he sent me back to America and I began teaching, I knew that I knew.

Your practice of the discipline named Svaroopa® yoga, based on the key principles of precision and compassion, allow you to mimic the physical processes I went through in my early years with my Guru.  The awakened Kundalini moved me through the full range of yoga poses, but in a way that opened my spine effortlessly — a radical departure from what I was doing and what I saw others doing in our yoga classes, as we tried to move our bodies into our idea of the picture-perfect pose.  I knew that “imposing” the “pose” on my body was wrong because I experienced the grace and ease of each pose in my meditations, when Kundalini moved me.

As my process advanced, I left the physical kriyas behind and experienced Kundalini clearing my mind and heart.  She unraveled the crazy-bits, of which there were many, by tracking them to their inner-most kernel: again and again I confronted the fear that drove all the crazies.  But I couldn’t unravel the fear.  My Guru did that.  I know what Grace is, for it begins the process (through Shaktipat initiation), supports the process (the ever-present umbrella of Grace) and it completes the process (the inner revealing of who you really are).

Even if you don’t know what Grace is, Svaroopa® yoga is the yoga of Grace.  Every time you target the core tensions and melt them away, tail to top, you open yourself to Divine Grace again.  Core opening is a process of inner opening, surrendering the way you resist your own Divinity and surrendering to the inner Reality of your own Self.  The practices invoke the blessing of the ages, coming from the sages and masters of yoga, those who are gone and those still alive.  Most students of Svaroopa® yoga experience Kundalini awakening within their first two years of regular study and practice; many experience this incredible gift in their first class or in their first year.  Or you can simply come to a Shaktipat Retreat and get it in a weekend.

What will Kundalini do for you? How do you know if your Svaroopa® yoga practices have awakened this Divine Power of Revelation within you?  If you feel the inner heat climbing your spine or radiating from your core, the revelatory power of Consciousness (Kundalini) is awakened and working within you.  If you dive in deeper than deep, losing track of time and place, the doorway to your own Divinity has been opened; Kundalini is opening you from the inside out.  If you find yourself lifted or moved effortlessly into a deeper angle in a pose or even right into a painful spot (to burn it away), the fire of yoga (Kundalini) is moving you light-years in a few breaths.

When you get inner answers, always right even when they don’t make sense, Kundalini is showing you how to live your life by the inner compass.  When you stop craving things that your mind still says it wants, Kundalini is freeing you from your compulsions.   When you find that everything you thought you wanted is just a summer rerun, and you realize that what you want is something more… you’re on the path.  This is yoga.  This is Svaroopa® yoga.  The Yoga of Grace.

Excerpted from Swami Nirmalananda’s Contemplation Article, June 2012