When Paramahansa Yogananda (1893-1952), known as the Father of Yoga in the West, first came to Philadelphia in 1924, he received a warm welcome as he brought to the City of Brotherly Love his teachings on Kriya Yoga, the advanced techniques of meditation which lead to realization of God, and the importance of a balanced health in the body, mind and soul. He gave a month-long series of lectures and classes at the Philadelphia Public Library which were so popular that hundreds of people had to be turned away. The Philadelphia Clubs of Applied and Practical Psychology also sponsored many additional lectures on his how-to-live principles, such as “Solving the Mystery of Success”, “Concentration and Its Utility” and “How to Work Without Fatigue.” By the time he left Philadelphia, Yogananda had attracted a large group of students, including internationally famed conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra, Leopold Stokowski.
When he returned to Philadelphia in the spring of 1928, during a transcontinental lecture tour, he addressed 250 physicians of the Aesculapius Society of Philadelphia on “Evolution of Healing Methods” and gave a series of talks at the LuLu Temple. He was also asked by the Fellowships of Faiths and the Philadelphia Ethical Culture Society to speak at an interfaith conference about Hinduism.
While today more and more people are recognizing the importance of looking at ourselves holistically as yoga and meditation become more mainstream, back in the 1920’s when Yogananda first brought his teachings to America, he was considered a trailblazer in the science of spirituality. Now over fifty years after his death, his legacy still lives on in our city through the Philadelphia Meditation Group of Self-Realization Fellowship and through the popularity of his teachings. His autobiography, Autobiography of a Yogi first published in 1946 is still considered a bestseller today.
AWAKE: The Life of Yogananda
On November 7, through the magical realism of co-directors Paola di Florio and Lisa Leeman in their documentary, AWAKE: The Life of Yogananda, The Father of the Yoga in the West will be back in Philadelphia this time on the silver screen. With its premiere in New York City on October 10, the film has been opening in cities all around the country including California, Virginia, Oklahoma and Arizona; the film will make its debut in Philadelphia at the Ritz Bourse November 7 through the 13th. Continue reading >>