How Do I Know What I Know?
By Swami Nirmalananda Saraswati
It is by the power of Grace that I know what I know. I see and understand how the human body works due to the Grace of my Baba. The gift of inner awakening that He gave me, through His Shaktipat, blossomed into my knowing of consciousness, for which I am ever grateful. It also blossomed into my knowing of the human body. Others have similar gifts, including those who can tell you about your past lives, foretell your future, intuit your medical needs, as well as people who communicate with Gods and guides, energy healers and more.
My gift is very simple: an understanding of the engineering of the body and its relationship with the mind and emotions. I can also look at a bridge and see how the structure works: how it is built from the ground up and designed with cross-connections that lift and support.
I would like to clarify — my gift is the understanding of how the body works from a structural perspective. My work is spiritual upliftment. This can be confusing, mainly because knowledge about the body is usually applied to the body, like a doctor who wants to heal a broken body or like a trainer who helps you gain physical mastery. Instead, I dedicate my knowledge about the body to upliftment. Like a musician or artist whose art is about spirituality, everything I do is for your spiritual upliftment.
While what I know about the structure of the body is dedicated to upliftment, I cannot do your upliftment for you. That’s your work. I can give you Shaktipat, the most powerful of gifts, but then I stand by and watch as you utilize that Divine energy for upliftment, or as you waste it away.
As a yogi, I give you the tools to heal yourself. More importantly, these tools are designed to take you farther, all the way into the knowing of your own Self. How wonderful that you can use your body as part of that exalted goal and process! Thus we have Svaroopa® yoga, which supports your spirituality.
Structuring a Professional Training
In giving you physical tools for upliftment, I had to structure a training program like stair steps, each training taking you to the next level. There are so many ways to build a staircase. It can be straight up or it can have a landing. It can turn at the landing or even be circular.
Our first Teacher Training program was like a set of steep stairs.
Like the riverside steps of the Varanasi ghats, steep steps take you directly to your goal in a short span. After Teacher Training, we had 10 Advanced Teacher Training programs, providing 16 levels of advanced and yoga therapy certifications. They were intense programs, ten days each, totaling 100 hours of training, a steep slope!
After many years of offering these trainings, I saw that people got tired, just like the people climbing the steps in this photo. Some persisted, even when they were out of breath, but some just stopped part way up, turned around and enjoyed the view.
So twelve years ago I redesigned the program, with shorter spans of stairs and landings along the way. Basically, I split each one of the previous trainings into two programs, with some of them even becoming three programs, turning 10 trainings into 24, each one being 7 days long. Breathing space!
This also made it easier for teachers to take their new skills home. They had better retention of information because they had to digest a smaller amount of information in each program. Gradually I eliminated the programs that people weren’t taking, leaving us with 11 ATT courses.
What Do We Have Now?
- YTT is shorter: Instead of 10 days each. Levels 1 & 2 are 5 days each, with Levels 3 & 4 being only 7 days each.
- ATT is more accessible: Advanced poses and teaching protocols are now available in shorter trainings with fewer prerequisites.
- EYTS is expanded: More options for your Continuing Ed, with new TuneUp programs that build your teaching skills as well as community connections.
- Shaktipat Days included in many of the programs. A teacher must operate from their innermost depths, so they need Svaroopa® yoga’s depth from the beginning. Shaktipat provides this instantaneously.
An organization dedicated to transformation will undergo transformation. An organization dedicated to spiritual upliftment will be run by those who are dedicated to upliftment, thus they will undergo transformation and change. And since an organization is made up of the people who participate, as they change, the organization will change.
Transformation means “a new form.” Our new YTT/ATT curriculum is a completely different animal. I had to change the basic premise of the programs. With athleticism leading the way in the Western yoga world, the emphasis is not on the spiritual growth envisioned by the sages of India. Instead, yoga is focused on stronger and ever more impressive poses, with the payoff of brief spiritual highs. This high happens whether you’re climbing mountains, jogging, lifting weights, playing tennis or doing Sun Salutations.
But yoga’s goal is for you to find the source of that “high.” When you experience a temporary high, it is your own highest level of being, leaking out from its inner source. This is your own Self, your own Divine Essence. Do you have to sweat to get there? Do you have to push yourself to exhaustion? Or is there an easier, more intelligent, and even more direct way of getting there – especially when you recognize that the “there” you’re trying to get to is “here.” As in “Be Here Now.”
The premise of Svaroopa® yoga is that you can unwrap the gift wrap on the Divine package — your own body, to discover what is inside. Pounding your body into submission is like opening the package with a sledgehammer. Instead, let’s find the dangling string and pull gently on it, to unravel the bindings. It turns out that the pivot point of your body is your tailbone, which is also the pivot point of Consciousness-Itself.
Our new trainings don’t change the underlying premise of our practice, the revealing of your own Divinity. Nor does this restructuring change the practices we do. Instead, we are simply communicating now in the predominant language of athleticism, showing you how your body REALLY works, and how to use it to access the depth of your own Being. So that you come to know what I know, which is called svaroopavidya — the experiential knowing of your own Divine Essence.
Oursophisticated methodology works with distinctly human abilities to cultivate the ultimate human experience — the knowing of your inherent Divinity. This is called freedom. Beginning with wholeness, Svaroopa® yoga is the ultimate practice that yields the ultimate benefit.