By Sadguru Swami Nirmalananda &
Avail yourself of yoga’s full range of technology, which goes beyond mere physical development to incorporate mental, devotional and meditative practices. The poses are meant to prepare you for the study of sutras, along with chanting and meditation. Each of these disciplines offers you significantly more than yoga poses can ever provide.
Your mind is more powerful than your body. This means that using yogic tools to develop your mental capacity gives you more benefits than poses could ever do. These tools are called j~nana yoga, the study of the texts. In addition, in the Svaroopa® Sciences, we work proactively on unraveling the way you use your mind. Instead of tying yourself up in knots, you can begin unraveling it with vichara (Svaroopa® yoga’s guided self-inquiry).
As you understand yoga’s teachings, you better understand life, as well as yourself and others around you. This changes everything. This is why we include contemplations, like mini-sutras, at the end of every Svaroopa® yoga class.
Your heart is more powerful than your mind. You develop your heart’s capacity through yoga’s devotional practices. When your heart meets God, or even turns toward God, who is going to be changed — God or you? You don’t even have to believe in God for it to work, just like you don’t have to believe in gravity for it to work. The yoga of your heart, bhakti yoga, is included in Svaroopa® yoga through the background music of sutras and chants, as well as in the final pose, Yoga Mudra. In this yogic seal, you place your head below your heart, bowing to your teacher and her/his whole lineage of teachers.
Meditation is the most powerful and most beneficial of yoga’s technologies. How amazing that you get so much when you are doing nothing! Modern research is beginning to prove what the sages always emphasized, that this is the cream of the practices, called raja yoga (king’s yoga). As wonderful as each of the other practices is, their purpose is to give you easy and deep meditation.
This is the point at which Gurus come into the picture. In earlier stages, the busy-ness of your body, mind and heart kept you focused on the practices instead of where they came from. The doing-ness seemed most important. Yet you got those practices from someone who had already done them. That teacher is called “guru,” even if she/he lives in your home town and isn’t yet enlightened. Even your local piano teacher is called a “piano guru.” In the West, we use a capital letter on the title Guru only when we’re referring to an authorized spiritual teacher, one who can take you all the way.
For true and fast spiritual development, you must pick a path and follow it to its end. Every genuine path has a living Guru. Mindfulness meditation, Zen, Tibetan, Christian contemplation, the power of now, kabbalah and Svaroopa® Vidya Meditation — all have living Gurus. If there’s no Guru, the path is not true. Someone must have attained the promise or it is another false promise. The one who attains and shares is called Guru.
Do you want to climb with a guide who has only seen satellite photos of the trail? Vidyadevi says, “I have climbed in the Himalayas. I always had a guide. I was protected and took the safest and most direct route to the top. In the same way, I have a spiritual guide — Swami Nirmalananda.”
The texts emphasize you must test the Guru. The test is two-fold: inside and outside.
First you check inside to see if you are getting uplifted in the Guru’s presence or by their teachings. It’s obviously working if you’re experiencing the bliss of consciousness, your own svaroopa. But it is also working if you are churning inside, with all your “stuff” coming up in order to be expelled from your system. To test the Guru further, follow their teachings for six months and then reevaluate how this is working for you.
Secondly, you look at those who have been studying with the Guru for the longest. See if they are more peaceful and more blissful, but also if they are becoming more effective in the world. Or are they using their spirituality to escape? Another thing to look for is that they are unique individuals, not all clones of each other and of the Guru.
When the Guru passes these tests, you can apply yourself to their practices for another six months. Swami Nirmalananda says, “After doing several six month periods, I realized one day that I’d forgotten to check in with myself. I was surprised to see that I’d been studying with my Baba for over six years. It was then that I knew that this path was working for me. It made me able to apply myself more fully.”
Svaroopa® yoga offers all the above yogic technologies because it is a maha yoga, one that interweaves all the yogas together. While your Svaroopa® yoga class emphasizes the physical practices, every class introduces mental, devotional and meditative processes.
Most importantly, Svaroopa® yoga is a Shaktipat yoga. Whether you begin at your tailbone, or with the sutras, devotional practices or meditations, studying with Swamiji guarantees you will receive this inner awakening. This is the beauty of a Kundalini master. Nirmalanandaji received Shaktipat from her Guru more than 40 years ago. She knows the path and what it will give. This is why she continues to say, “Do more yoga.”