About Us

Swami Nirmalananda Saraswati

Swami Nirmalananda is our Master Teacher, a teacher of the highest integrity for over 35 years. Formerly known as Rama Berch, she is the originator of Svaroopa® yoga as well as the Founder of Master Yoga and of Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram. In 2009 she was honored with initiation into the ancient order of Saraswati monks.

Now wearing the traditional orange, she has openly dedicated her life to serving others. Usually called Swamiji, she makes the highest teachings easily accessible, guiding seekers to the knowledge and experience of their own Divine Essence.


Origin of Svaroopa® Yoga

Nirmalaji received Maha-Shaktipat-Diksha from Swami Muktananda (Baba) in 1976, and sold her home and her accounting business to move her family into his ashram, where she served as part of the management team, taught asana classes and served as one of the ashram musicians. Living in the ashram allowed Swamiji to indulge her total focus on Baba’s teachings, which laid the foundation for her life and work ever since. She settled in San Diego in 1987.

She describes her unique and powerful way of teaching as “a cosmic download, given to me by my Guru. He gave it to me in one instant, whole and complete, but it took me 15 years to figure out what I got. I certainly am a slow learner!” She was urged to name it and accepted the help of a student in establishing the copyright and trademark protection for Svaroopa® yoga, protecting both the name and the body of teachings in order to preserve their integrity. Yoga Journal listed Svaroopa® yoga as a style in 1996, beginning the national recognition of its growth and effectiveness.

Swamiji created and directed the yoga program for Dr. Deepak Chopra for five years and served as the founding president of the national Yoga Alliance as well as the San Diego yoga teacher association, Y.E.S. (Yoga Education Society). She taught nationally and internationally, including weekend workshops, yoga conferences and yoga retreat centers. She and Master Yoga moved to the Philadelphia area in 2006.

Founding of Master Yoga

Swami Nirmalananda founded Master Yoga as an organization to promote and enable the teaching of Svaroopa® yoga practices. It was and is “All a function of Grace” explains Swami Nirmalananda, referring to the poses that arose for her spontaneously in meditation due to the initiation she received from her Guru.

She created the pose protocols of Svaroopa® yoga in order to give her students the same experience of opening from the inside — core opening. She has made it possible for Svaroopis to duplicate what she got from her Guru, through precise angles, alignments and propping — the whole process of Svaroopa® yoga.

Alignment with Grace

Teaching and documenting the cosmic download she describes as a path of Grace, comparing it to walking a valley in a mountain wilderness where she’d never been before, yet still knowing exactly where she was going. “Svaroopa® yoga has arisen from Grace to open students to the knowing of their own Divinity. It is a process that invokes Grace as it arises from Grace. Grace is like an accelerator,” explains Swami Nirmalananda. “Just as pressing your gas pedal down a half inch increases your car’s speed by 20 miles per hour, opening yourself to the flow of Grace makes the proportion of effort to results very much in your favor. These Grace-fueled and Grace-filled benefits are physical in Svaroopa® yoga — and much more than physical.”

“It’s not about me,” she asserts. “The Grace that gave rise to Svaroopa® yoga and Svaroopa® Vidya meditation is Baba’s — and it’s yours.”

Swamiji points out that the precision of the teaching protocols is essential to students having the extraordinary inner experience of core opening. Without the precision of alignment in asanas, for example, your body softening into an Alternate Leg pose will allow your knee to drift out to the side, your body returns to familiar and detrimental misalignments. The spinal opening created by the protocols enables people to experience their own Divinity. The “Wow! Factor” arises from the knowing that we are all living in the body as an incarnation of the Divine. This has always been her purpose in bringing Svaroopa® yoga into the world: to keep the Divine in the methodology. “If it’s taken only as a technique and you lose the Divine,” Swamiji points out, ”you also lose the physical benefits.”

Serving as Master Teacher

Swami Nirmalananda’s serves as Master Teacher by keeping the organization on track in preserving the “Wow! Factor” in Svaroopa® yoga. She works closely with our Board of Directors and administration team. Having spent decades developing an extraordinary Faculty, Swamiji expresses delight in seeing them doing a fantastic job of moving teachers-in-training through deep transformation, both personally and professionally. Nirmalananda continues to work closely with the Head Trainer to support the Faculty in this work — maintaining and cultivating the understanding that, while working with precise alignment and propping in poses, it’s fundamentally about an inner process of transformation. Overall, Swamiji focuses her guidance on retaining the integrity of the teachings as well as on the character of the organization itself as an embodiment of Divinity.

Swamiji’s love of the classroom leads her to guest teaching, especially in Advanced Teacher Training (ATT) courses and many of our programs in Exton PA. Interacting with students allows her to be the heart throb of what’s happening in the classroom. Through the avenue of the Svaroopa® yoga E-Group Forum, Swami Nirmalananda stays in continuing conversation with the Master Yoga community. She says, “I love to stay in touch with each and every teacher and Svaroopi, so I love the way technology makes that possible!”

Click here to read Swami Nirmalananda's blog.