Radha, Swami Shivananda

   kundalini yoga teacher
   The German-born Swami Shivananda Radha helped to spread KUNDALINI YOGA and other Indian teachings in Canada. She founded the Yasodhara Ashram Society in British Columbia, an important spiritual center.
   Sylvia Hellman was born in Berlin, Germany. Before World War II, she established a success-ful career as a dancer and writer. She and her husband helped the persecuted escape Nazi Ger-many during the war. Her husband eventually lost his life in this cause. After the war Hellman remarried, but misfortune struck again when her second husband had a sudden stroke and died in 1949. Distraught over her losses, Hellman relocated to Montreal, Quebec, in 1951 with the intention of starting a new life. It was dur-ing this period of mourning that Hellman began questioning the meaning of life and pursuing a spiritual practice. In 1954, while at the SELF-REALIZATION FELLOWSHIP, founded by Parama-hansa YOGANANDA, she experienced a vision of Swami SHIVANANDA SARASWATI. Feeling compelled by this vision, she traveled to RISHIKESH, India, in 1955 to meet and study with the swami. After only a few months, Swami Shivananda gave her MANTRA initiation and gave her the name Swami Shivananda Radha. From that moment forward, she devoted herself completely to studying Indian wisdom and introducing what she had learned to the West. While in Rishikesh, she encountered the eternal yogi BABAJI, the famous guru in Yogananda’s line of KRIYA YOGA gurus, and received an intense experience of light and expanded consciousness.
   After six months in Rishikesh, Swami Radha returned to Canada at the request of her guru. In 1956 she formed the Shivananda Ashram in Vancouver, British Columbia, which was later to become the Yasodhara Ashram in Kootenay Bay, British Columbia. The ashram has served as a major center in the West for the teaching of KUNDALINI practices and has remained inde-pendent of the various branches of Shivananda’s Divine Life Society.
   Swami Radha’s teachings rely on practical techniques that make spirituality accessible to modern everyday life. Kundalini and other forms of yogic practice are used to direct individuals toward holistic development and independence. Radha taught what she learned from encounters with Babaji; her methods used visualized healing and divine energy. She often merged yogic teach-ings with Western psychology and symbolism, effecting an understanding between the Eastern and Western mind.
   The Yasodhara Ashram Society publishes an internationally recognized yoga magazine called Ascent, which Swami Radha instituted in 1969. Timeless Books publishing company was estab-lished by Radha in 1978. Located today in Spo-kane, Washington, Timeless Books publishes works on kundalini, MEDITATION, mantras, and dream analysis.
   In 1992, Swami Radha oversaw the comple-tion of the Temple of Divine Light Dedicated to All Religions located in Kootenay Bay. She also founded the Association for the Development of Human Potential, dedicated to helping individu-als achieve their spiritual path. Over 100 members have joined the Yasodhara Ashram Society with affiliated centers called Radha houses located throughout Europe and North America. The centers serve as a continuing resource for Swami Radha’s teachings.
   Further reading: Julie McKay, Glimpses of a Mystical Affair: Spiritual Experiences of Swami Sivananda Radha (Spokane, Wash.: Timeless Books, 1996); Swami Sivananda Radha, Hatha Yoga: The Hidden Language: Sym-bols, Secrets and Metaphor (Spokane, Wash.: Timeless Books, 1995); ———, Kundalini Yoga for the West: A Foundation for Character Building, Courage, and Aware-ness (Spokane, Wash.: Timeless Books, 1993); ———, Mantras: Words of Power (Spokane, Wash.: Timeless Books, 1994); ———, Realities of the Dreaming Mind (Spokane, Wash.: Timeless Books, 1994).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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