In 1920 a boat docked in Boston, MA and a man by the name of Paramahansa Yogananda stepped onto American Soil. He was only the second swami to come to the United States at that point, and his teaching and writing sparked the imagination of many young spiritual seekers. Thus began the yoga revolution here in the West.
Donald Walters was a direct disciple of Yogananda and a member of Self Realization Fellowship (SRF), an organization founded by his guru. Walters eventually took vows and became known as Swami Kriyananda. Yet after a rather public and acrimonious split with SRF, he went on to found Ananda, author over 150 books and teach worldwide.
On Sunday, April 21st, Krinanada passed away leaving behind many devoted followers. While he will likely be remembered by some as a rogue Swami and by others as a great teacher, I think he and his generation of Western yogis is most influential in the brave choice they made to explore yoga at a time when it was known only as an exotic Indian practice.
If not for people like Kriyananda bringing yoga to the mainstream, I might well be wearing a suit to work each day rather than yoga shorts and bare feet! For those of us who have had our lives healed by yoga, the people like Kriananda who came before us, deserve our gratitude.
Please keep Kriananda’s many students in your thoughts and prayers as they greave the loss of their teacher. You can also listen to my two part interview with Kriyananda (part 1 • part 2).