American Yoga Association

views updated

American Yoga Association

Originally founded in 1971 as the Light of Yoga Society by Alice Christensen, a disciple of Swami Rama of Haridwar, India (1900-1972) (not to be confused with Swami Rama of the Himalayan International Institute of Yoga Science and Philosophy ). Swami Rama left his home in the 1920s to practice yoga and wander through the Himalayas. After three decades as a recluse, he settled in Haridwar as a yoga teacher.

Alice Christensen's yoga practice began with a vision of bright light that she experienced in 1953. She subsequently corresponded for many years with Swami Sivananda (1887-1963), founder of the Divine Life Society in Rishikesh, India. The year after Swami Sivananda's death, she met her own guru, Swami Rama, and spent a year in India studying with him. After he appointed her his representative in the West, Christensen returned to the U.S. in 1965 to lecture and teach yoga and to gather a group of students.

The Light of Yoga Society transmitted the teachings of Swami Rama, who simplified the complex wisdom of the Vendanta and developed it as a practical tool for Western practitioners. The society's program started with hatha yoga asanas and meditation, both to be practiced daily. Other practices recommended were vegetarianism, the restrained use of sex, the practice of ahimsa (nonviolence), and the avoidance of alcohol, tobacco, and drugs. During the life of Swami Rama, he guided eleven centers in India, Australia, and the U.S.

In 1982 the society was renamed the American Yoga Association, and has since functioned out of two centers, one in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, and another in Sarasota, Florida. the association produces instructional books, videos as well as meditation tapes. One of their most unique program is "Easy Does It Yoga" for seniors and those with physical challenges. The program is known for helping the elderly and handicapped regain independence through strengthening their bodies. Address P.O. Box 19986, Sarasota, FL 34276. Website:


American Yoga Association. April 19,2000.

Christensen, Alice, and David Rankin. The Light of Yoga Society Beginner's Manual. Cleveland Heights, Ohio: Om Ram Production, 1972. Revised edition as: The American Yoga Association Beginner's Manual. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1987.

About this article

American Yoga Association

Updated About content Print Article