I had the good fortune to be part of the local seva community supporting Kripalu while Yoganand was teaching there. I was able to regularly attend the 4:15 yoga classes, and pretty soon settled into a spot by the wall on the far-side of the Forest Room for the extended moderate class. The stretching and holding in postures lit me up from the inside out leaving me with a sweat-soaked shirt, but happy to then sit in quiet meditation for the last half hour of class.
Some days, as I walked past the Yoga Studio door – where the vigorous class was held – I would see Yoganand sitting at the front of the smaller room awaiting his class. One glance in, and I headed for the Forest Room! I’m not quite sure what I thought went on in the Yoga Studio, but I was quite certain I wasn’t ready for it!
As I continued attending yoga classes I began also reading books about yoga and yoga texts and became quite confused. Things seemed inconsistent and even contradictory, and I couldn’t make sense out of it. Then I saw a program announced that Yoganand was teaching: “Asanas as Spiritual Doorways.” That was the connection I was looking for — how did what I was doing in my body in yoga class leap across the gap and become something spiritual? I signed up.
The morning practice opened me like a blooming flower. But for me it was the first morning’s lecture session that really lit me up — I sat there for three hours stunned — couldn’t even write notes. Yoganand was saying stuff that made sense out of all my confusions about yoga practice and theory. It had roots – a history that made sense -and a philosophy underlying it with a relentless, consistent purpose. And I could see it!
After that program, my yoga began to move from a practice to a path — I had that feeling that it was going somewhere, and that it was taking me along. When Yoganand left Kripalu and began Pranakriya, I started traveling to continue studying with him. While teaching in North Augusta, Yoganand and Amy opened their home to students to stay with them during programs. This now gave me the opportunity to spend time with Yoganand in his home – when he wasn’t “teaching” – to see how he himself lived out what he taught. And it worked!
While I still relate to Yoganand as teacher — I willingly give him that place in my life as the one who gave me a consistent core of teaching that guides my practice and path — I also take him to heart as a good friend these days. Conversation blends into teaching, and teaching blends into conversation, and life goes on……