HistoryAnanda Yoga is one of the oldest Hatha Yoga systems in the West. Its roots are the 1940/1950ies, when Kriyananda was asked by Yogananda to demonstrate the postures for visiting guests at the Self-Realization Fellowship (where Kriyananda was the head monk at the mother center), as well as for public events, such as the "Lake Shrine Dedication." Kriyananda also modeled for photos, for articles on the yoga postures in Yogananda's "Self-Realization Magazine."* From 1965 he started to teach Ananda Yoga publicly in California. In 1972 his students developed a Yoga Teacher Training Program, which is now taught in America,* in Europe,* and in India.* The director of Ananda Yoga, Gyandev Rich McCord, is a co-founder of Yoga Alliance and a member of its Board of Directors.*
PrinciplesAnanda Yoga uses asana and pranayama to awaken, experience, and control the subtle energies (prana) within oneself, especially the energies of the chakras. Its object is to use those energies to harmonize the body, uplift the mind, and above all to attune oneself with higher levels of awareness. One unique feature of this system is the use of silent affirmations while in the asanas, as a means of working more consciously with the subtle energies to achieve this attunement. Ananda Yoga is a relatively inward experience, not an athletic practice. A main goal is to prepare for deep meditation, as Hatha Yoga is considered the physical branch of Raja Yoga.* Ananda Yoga also includes Paramhansa Yogananda's Energization Exercises, which direct cosmic life force (prana) through the medulla oblongata to all parts of the body.
Energization ExercisesThe Energization Exercises, a vital part of Ananda Yoga, are Yogananda's contribution to the science of yoga. He first developed them in 1916, then called "Yogoda," and later expanded them into a set of 39 exercises. The goal is to tap into cosmic energy, recharging the whole body. Yogananda explains in his Autobiography of a Yogi: "Realizing that man's body is like an electric battery, I reasoned that it could be recharged with energy through the direct agency of the human will…. I therefore taught the Ranchi students my simple “Yogoda” techniques by which the life force, centred in man's medulla oblongata, can be consciously and instantly recharged from the unlimited supply of cosmic energy."
Quotes By the Founder, Kriyananda"Energy is the cornerstone of yoga teachings."
"The yoga postures are designed to promote and to harmonize the flow of energy in the body. The perceptive hatha yogi, understanding this truth, will endeavor to become conscious of his energy, and will use the postures and breathing exercises as a means primarily to developing this awareness. For awareness is the first and most important stage towards gaining control."
"Every posture is associated with certain mental and spiritual states which, if one meditates on them while doing the posture, will come to him more easily than if he goes through the postures absent-mindedly, or thinking only of their physical benefits."
"Every posture must be an affirmation of, and must be followed by a return to, the divine Self within."