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Swami Sivananda

Though he never visited the United States, this Indian guru had a profound influence on yoga in America.

By Phil Catalfo


Born into a devout South Indian family in 1887, Swami Sivananda, then named Kuppuswamy, began his career as a dedicated physician, a natural calling for the deeply compassionate youth who fed the poor and hungry who passed by his family's home. In 1913, he traveled to Malaysia, where he ran a hospital. Ten years later, he returned to India; by that point, he had undertaken a serious study of the world's religions and developed a daily practice of prayer and asana.

In 1924, in Rishikesh, he met his guru, who initiated him as a sannyasin (renunciant) and named him Swami Sivananda. For years, Sivananda lived the life of a wandering monk, performing tapas (austerities). In 1936, in an abandoned cow shed in Rishikesh, he established the Divine Life Society. An ashram that included a free dispensary and charitable hospital grew on the site, and today the society has branches all over the world. Sivananda, who passed away in 1963, never again left India, but his influence is felt globally through the work of key devotees: Swami Vishnu-devananda, who came to the West in 1957 and founded the first Sivananda Yoga center two years later, in Montreal; Swami Satchidananda, who founded Integral Yoga; and Swami Sivananda Radha, who founded Yasodhara Ashram in British Columbia.

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Sivananda Yoga Center has not to do with Divine Life Society. There isnīt any conection between both. People usually make confuse about it. Althought Swami Vishnu Devananda had created a ashram in Montreal and use the Guruīs name, the Yoga of Syntesis has not to do with the yoga teachs in Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center.


Hard to believe that one of the greastest Guru's of all time, who illuminated the path of such great teachers as Swami Radha, Swami Satchidananda,
Swami Chitananda,Swami Vishnu, and Swami Krishnananda gets two whole paragraphs. Way to go Yoga Journal.


In Germany there is "Yoga Vidya", based on Swami Sivnaanda's teaching, running more than 60 Yoga Vidya Centers and three big Ashrams, among them Yoga Vidya Meinberg, biggest Yoga Ashram outside India.

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