Rev. Prakasha Shakti Capen, who had a background in radio and broadcasting prior to her years serving as director of the Washington, DC and Boston Integral Yoga Institutes, served as editor of Integral Yoga Magazine from 1979 to 1991, when she was then transferred to San Francisco to serve as IYI director there. On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the launch of Integral Yoga Magazine (December 1969), we asked for her reflections on her role at the magazine. Rev. Prakash graciously recounted the following:
“I first lived and taught at the Washington, DC and, then, Boston IYIs. I remember how excited we all were when a new issue of the magazine arrived. We’d stop, open the box and read our issues on the spot. For those of us, and the many others around the globe, who weren’t living at the ashram or who didn’t have the chance to see Sri Gurudev (Swami Satchidananda) on a regular basis, the magazine was a lifeline. In addition to the articles by Gurudev and Swami Sivananda, the magazine contained the “Day by Day with Gurudev” column. To a certain extent it felt like we were traveling the world with Gurudev—able to read about his activities, as well as excerpts from his talks. The magazine also contained news from the Integral Yoga centers; so it connected us as a global Integral Yoga community.
“When Gurudev asked me to move to the ashram (in Connecticut) from Boston, I became the magazine’s editor and, soon after that, editor of Integral Yoga Publications. At that time, Gurudev was very involved with the magazine. After I had all the articles and photos ready, he’d review it and then go over it with me by phone. He wanted to ensure that, even with the refinement necessary to change transcripts of talks into print, my editorial touch was light, never inadvertently altering his meaning. Although he didn’t define it this way, he was teaching me to be a subtle editor, one who’d be alert to the author’s individual voice. (This guided me years later as a freelance editor working with different clients.) Gurudev was, of course, expert in conveying the most subtle and profound yogic teachings, always in an accessible way. Working with him this way trained me to be acutely aware of communicating clearly, from the heart as well as the head.
“Gurudev taught me so much more than I had ever learned in my earlier professional life. He wanted me to be aware of the words, not only in his articles but throughout the magazine, that would reach people, help them feel seen and heard. Every single person mentioned in an article was special and important. He noticed so many small details that could be changed to enhance the magazine. For instance, he wanted each photo caption to tell a little story in one sentence, something that drew the reader right into the picture.
“I’m eternally grateful for this time as everything he taught me carried over into so much that I did after my years as editor with Integral Yoga Publications. In the midst of his directing me as ‘his editor,’ Gurudev had taught me about reading and listening with depth and sensitivity to what each individual is trying to express, not imposing my own words but truly hearing theirs. I feel that all I learned from him informed my own teaching and writing and, certainly, counseling. Thank you, Gurudev!”
About Rev. Prakasha Shakti Capen:
Rev. Prakasha left behind her career in broadcasting when she realized her real passion—to serve by teaching Yoga. Over the years, she was director of the Integral Yoga Institutes in Washington, DC, Boston, and San Francisco. As editor-in-chief of Integral Yoga Magazine and Integral Yoga Publications, she worked directly with Sri Swami Satchidananda. In San Francisco, she served as director of Life Enhancement for the AIDS/HIV Study Group, worked with Dr. Dean Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease, and began hospice service. A professional writer and editor, Prakasha now specializes in Yoga for those with chronic illness and, also, teaches application of Yoga in daily life.