It was the Spring of 1969 when Swami Satchidananda gathered together a group of the very people who first hosted him when he arrived in America in 1966: Peter Max, Victor Zurbel, Peter Petronio, and several others. These were mostly artists and designers, who were friends with poets and writers like Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs—all who, in 1966, were becoming deeply interested in Yoga, meditation, Eastern philosophy, and Swami Satchidananda’s teachings.
They began the Integral Yoga Institute (IYI) in New York City, which now by 1969 was growing in popularity with young people. Parameshwari Dinsmoor, one of Swami Satchidananda’s first assistants recalls: “Discussions and planning sessions about a possible launch of a magazine took place in the main room of the IYI (500 West End Avenue). Lengthy discussions on the concept, design, focus began. As far as I can recall, more IYIs were springing up all over the country at that time—some big others medium or small (San Francisco, Los Angeles, Paris, Brussels, Detroit, New Jersey, among others). Gurudev wanted to keep all of them informed about our activities in New York, as well as have the other Institutes share information about their activities. That original purpose soon grew into the idea that the magazine include, not just news of the Integral Yoga Institutes, but other articles.”
In December 1969, the first issue was published. The magazine, which became America’s first published (and widely distributed) Yoga magazine, began as a very humble and homemade endeavor: a 16-page, 7 x 10 inch stapled booklet on beige paper with dark brown print. It was named “Integral Yoga” and inside its subtitle read: “A Bi-Monthly Magazine.” This first issue was called: Light One, Ray One. Issues came out every two months for a total of six per year. Subsequent issues were Light 1, Ray 2, 3, and so on. From just a few articles by Gurudev, his Guru (Swami Sivananda), and other spiritual teachers, the magazine quickly expanded into an inspiring resource on various aspects of Yoga and spiritual life, helpful hints for one’s spiritual practice, recipes for new vegetarians, health and wellness tips, and more. In its second year, the magazine was labeled: Light 2, Ray 1 (and ran through Ray 6) and this numbering system continued until the August-September issue in 1974, which was labeled “Issue No. 21 (instead of “Light” and “Ray”). Eventually, numbers were replaced by dates and in 1975 the subtitle was dropped and the magazine was just called: “Integral Yoga.”
Over the years, many of Swami Satchidananda’s dear friends and interfaith collaborators contributed regular columns, including Brother David Steindl-Rast, OSB and Rabbi Joseph Gelberman. Dr. Sandra Amrita McLanahan had a Yoga and wellness column for some years, and there usually was a “Children’s Corner” as well. Articles on various aspects of Yoga, vegetarian diet and recipes, letters from readers, news from Gurudev’s travels and other Integral Yoga centers and students filled the pages as the magazine expanded over the years. While the content remained fairly consistent over the years, the magazine (often depending on the staff, budget available, etc.) alternated between being a monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly, until 2016 when, with rising printing and mailing costs (and readers with environmental concerns who preferred a non-print publication) it first became a monthly digital magazine and then in September 2016, it became a weekly eMagazine.
Themed issues—on various branches of Yoga and other subjects—that were a highlight in the late 1970s/early 1980s, were revived in the last decade of the print version of the magazine, when Rev. Prem Anjali became editor. As Yoga began having a renaissance and a new generation was learning about it for the first time, the focus, content, and range of contributors and interviewees expanded to include luminaries such as Ram Dass, Marianne Williamson, Deepak Chopra, Jon Kabat-Zin, Dean Ornish, Swami Kriyananda, Alice Coltrane, among many others. Popular Yoga teachers like Erich Schiffman, Sean Corne, Rodney Yee, Rod Stryker, Rama Jyoti Vernon, Michael Stone, Stephen Cope, and many more were featured interviewees, as were senior Integral Yoga Swamis, Ministers, and teachers.
Throughout the years there were special editions that included: Swami Satchidananda’s First World Tour (and meeting with Pope Paul VI, 1968), his first visit to the USSR (as part of a citizen ambassador delegation, 1985), the dedication of the LOTUS (1986), his 80th birthday (1994), among others (see photo for a sample of these, including several covers by Peter Max). This website, integralyogamagazine.org was launched in mid-2005, with help from Nick Eberle and Karen Karuna Kreps. Karuna (an early student of Gurudev’s from the 1960s) went on to become both the senior editor of the magazine, as well as the webmaster for a decade. Most recently, Sam Eberle redesigned the website, expanding the article offerings, adding more video, as well as a complete archive of both the print issues (2003-2016, available for hard copy purchase and/or digital download) and the eMagazine issues.
The magazine has been blessed with the service of so many wonderful Karma Yogis over these past 50 years: editors, writers, copy editors and proof readers, graphic designers, layout artists, photographers (see list below). Pop artist icon Peter Max contributed four covers commemorating special anniversaries over the decades, as well as other art for inside covers and Integral Yoga Publications. We are so grateful to all.
We’d like to thank our generous donors, who help to make the publication and dissemination of the magazine possible. During the years the magazine was in print it was sent for free to many and to prisoners, prison libraries (back issues continue to be donated to prisons). The magazine donors also fund the website, many of our free publications and other projects that bring these Yoga teachings to so many around the world. Their generosity also supports archival and translation projects, making Integral Yoga books and teachings available in various languages.
A deep bow to Integral Yoga and Integral Yoga Magazine founder Swami Satchidananda for sharing his wisdom and Integral Yoga teachings through Integral Yoga Magazine which, in 1969, became America’s first Yoga magazine. Our heartfelt gratitude to the many luminaries, editors, writers, graphic artists, photographers, and Karma Yogis, who over these 50 years contributed so much. It’s not possible to name each and every one who has served, but we’d like to acknowledge some of those who were instrumental (and we apologize in advance for any omissions).
Contributors to the Earliest Issues: Sri Swami Satchidananda (first Editor-in Chief) Peter Max (launch of the IYIs and Integral Yoga Magazine, cover designs and other artwork), Arjuna Zurbel (Peter Max’s longtime collaborator, founding member, designer, photographer), Peter Petronio (founding member, designer, photographer), Aikya Malloy (first editor), Kumar Buchman (first managing editor), Balaram Malloy (first business manager), Mithra Macaluso (first art director), George Hausman (photographer), Robert Altman (photographer), Paris Asta (photographer), Shanti Norris (photographer).
Those Who Served for Over a Decade: Rev. Prem Anjali (editor, writer, photographer), Rev. Prakasha Shakti Capen (editor), Rev. Kumari de Sachy (editor, writer), Swami Hamsananda (transcription, subscriptions), Shiva Herve´ (designer, layout, photo editor), Amma Kidd (writer, photographer), Karen Karuna Kreps (senior editor, writer, webmaster), Swami Lalitananda (writer, photographer, mailings), Jnanam MacIsaac (writer, photographer), Peter Max (cover art, illustrations, writer), Swami Murugananda (transcripts), Saraswati Neuman (design/layout), Shanti Norris (photographer, writer), Peter Petronio (cover designer, creative consultant), Swami Sharadananda (layout, photographer), Swami Tyagananda (photographer), Victor Arjuna Zurbel (designer, graphic artist, writer, photographer).
Other Long Term Karma Yogis: Rev. Janaki Carrera (production staff), Snehan Cherniske ((ashram print shop), Prema Conan (layout), Chaitanya Dubitsky (ashram print shop), Sam Eberle (webmaster), Arjuna Jyothi (layout), Gretchen Uma Knight (layout), Ganesh MacIsaac (photographer), Daya Marcus (art production, writer), Balaram Rivera (ashram print shop), Sushila Ronner (layout, illustrator), Chandra Sammons (photography, writer), Chandra Schoonover (photography), Anagan Stearns (editor), Abhaya Thiele (assistant editor, production staff), Vidya Vonne (editor), Jayalakshmi Williams (art production).
A Sampling of Covers Over the Decades:
(Special thanks to Shiva Herve´ for the cover montage)