I’ve been fascinated with the history of yoga since watching the documentary, Yoga Unveiled. It was recommended to me by Judy Murphy, the yoga teacher I was taking yoga classes with back in the late 2000’s. The documentary was full of details, dates and names and I recall thinking, ‘wow, there is a lot to learn!’
Fast forward to the present day, I was intrigued about the modern yogi, Yogananda, whom I kept hearing about. How did he fit into the lineages and what was his impact on yoga?
I was happy to purchase myself the copy of Autobiography of a Yogi, recognizing that I’d need a fair amount of time to read the entire book and hoping that it would be a good resource to have on hand. Both reasons were true. The 500 page book spans over 40 years of Yogananda’s life and includes 49 chapters. Each chapter rich in details of Yogananda’s life and the workings of Kriya Yoga.
Being the first yogi to the United States, I was certain the majority of the book would spend time describing his experience in the Western world. But I was wrong. The book starts by describing Yogananda’s desire and drive to reach the Himalayan mountains. Multiple attempts he made without success. Through his words you can feel the urgency and commitment he had to his spiritual quest. I appreciated the willingness to preserve even when I’m not certain he even knew where the drive was coming from.
In the end, Yogananda doesn’t reach the Himalayan mountains and still struggles to find his guru. The escapades that he endures to find his guru are entertaining and intriguing. His recounts of many spectacular yogis is a valuable addition to the understanding of yoga at the beginning of the 20th century. It was reassuring that if this yogi had challenges on his yoga journey, it was certain I would too. Knowing that Yogananda took years to find his teacher, it was okay that I took my time to find my teacher too
Aspiring Yoga Teacher
I've practiced yoga since I was a pre-teen and have always found it to keep me centered. I will be a teacher one day and this is my journey to discover teaching and practice.