Marrying Yoga and Religion: The Past

My exploration of Self-realization began after approximately ten years studying and practicing various methodologies of yoga and coming to a point where I yearned for a more pure and experiential connection with the divine. I found I wasn’t receiving enough spiritual growth from either my yoga practice in various studios or from the Christian church. Somehow I wanted to synthesize the two practices of my faith and upbringing with going to a Christian church with my yoga practice. After sharing these concerns with a Christian friend who also actively participated in the yoga community, he suggested I read Paramahansa Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi. I was instantly enthralled with the countless gems of yogic wisdom within the pages of the book and yearned to know more. Thereafter, I joined the local Denver Meditation Group for meditation services and subscribed to the Self-Realization Fellowship lessons. I completely immersed myself in the teachings, which included meditation and pranayama. The very first lesson explains, “Through application of the moral and esoteric principles of original Christianity and of original Yoga presented in these teachings—especially the simple techniques of meditation handed down to us by the Gurus of Self-Realization Fellowship—you will discover a life divine” (SRF Lessons, pg. 1, 1956). During this time of spiritual growth I recall feeling entirely elated, as I had finally found a home with my new spiritual path and at the same time frustrated with why I had not made the discovery earlier in my life! The teachings also contain, “basic spiritual truths that develop man’s potentialities for living a godly life” (1956, p.1). Shortly after receiving and implementing the teachings, I felt complete bliss and an ineffable sense of spiritual fulfillment. I found I could merge my close relationship with my Christian background into yoga, of which resulted in my ultimate and authentic experiential connection with the divine.