Sri Swami Satchidananda was one of the first Yoga masters to bring the classical Yoga tradition to the West. He taught Yoga postures to Americans and introduced them to meditation and a vegetarian and more compassionate lifestyle after he was invited to America in 1966 by the iconic pop artist Peter Max. During this period of cultural awakening, a small circle of Peter Max’s artist friends beseeched the Swami to extend what was supposed to be a brief stop in New York City so they could learn from him the secret of finding physical, mental and spiritual health, peace and enlightenment. Three years later, he led some half a million American youth in chanting OM, when he delivered the official opening remarks at the 1969 Woodstock Music and Art Festival, and he became known as “the Woodstock Guru.”
The distinctive teachings he brought with him blend the physical discipline of Yoga, the spiritual philosophy of Vedic literature and the interfaith ideals he pioneered. These techniques and concepts influenced a generation and a spawned Yoga culture that is flourishing today. Today, over twenty million Americans practice Yoga as a means for managing stress, promoting health, slowing down the aging process and creating a more meaningful life.
The teachings of Swami Satchidananda have spread into the mainstream and thousands of people now teach Yoga. Integral Yoga is the foundation for Dr. Dean Ornish’s landmark work in reversing heart disease and Dr. Michael Lerner’s noted Commonweal Cancer Help program. Today many Integral Yoga Institutes, teaching centers and certified teachers throughout the United States and abroad offer classes and training programs in all aspects of Integral Yoga.
In 1979, Sri Swamiji was inspired to establish Satchidananda Ashram–Yogaville. Based on his teachings, it is a place where people of different faiths and backgrounds can come to realize their essential oneness. A focal point of Yogaville is the Light Of Truth Universal Shrine (LOTUS). This unique interfaith shrine honors the Spirit that unites all the world religions, while celebrating their diversity. People from all over the world come there to meditate and pray.
Over the years, Sri Swamiji received many honors for his public service, including the Juliet Hollister Interfaith Award presented at the United Nations and in 2002 the U Thant Peace Award. In addition, he served on the advisory boards of many Yoga, world peace and interfaith organizations. He is the author of many books on Yoga and is the subject of the documentary, “Living Yoga: The life and teachings of Swami Satchidananda.” In 2002, he entered Mahasamadhi (a God-realized soul’s conscious final exit from the body).