Swami Sivananda Radha
Sylvia Hellman (1911 – 1995) had a visionary experience in Montreal which led her to her guru, Swami Sivananda Saraswati of Rishikesh, India. At his ashram she received intense training in the philosophy and practices of yoga, and in 1956 she was initiated into the sacred order of sanyas to become Swami Sivananda Radha.
At her guru’s request she returned to the West to establish an ashram for the study of yoga. Swami Radha’s major focus was to interpret the ancient yogic teachings of the East so that they could be understood and applied in the daily life of Westerners. She set high ethical standards and encouraged students to develop quality in their lives and manifest their own ideals. Her teachings are based on building character as a foundation so that the energy gained through spiritual practice is directed wisely.
A pioneer in the North American yoga movement of the mid 20th century, Swami Radha’s teachings continue to inspire the yogis of today.
Swami Radhananda became president of Yasodhara Ashram in 1993 and is the spiritual director of both Yasodhara Ashram and the Yasodhara Yoga Centres, maintaining the quality and integrity of Swami Radha’s teachings.
As a long-time householder yogini, Swami Radhananda has a special understanding of how to incorporate yoga and spiritual practice into daily life. With professional expertise in educational consulting and a passion for adult learning, she has been instrumental in developing the Yasodhara Yoga training programs. Her own yoga teaching started from her home in Lethbridge, Alberta. At Yasodhara Ashram she opened the way for intergenerational involvement in yoga through the Ashram’s diverse programming. Her current focus is on creating an environmentally resilient community, ensuring Yasodhara will be a place of learning and transformation for generations to come.
Swami Sivananda Saraswati, (1887 -1963) was one of India’s great gurus, and the founder of the Divine Life Society in Rishikesh. Known for his generosity and heart, he has inspired many to the selfless path of yoga.
Swami Sivananda initiated Swami Radha in 1956. At this time, to initiate a woman and a Westerner was groundbreaking. After an intense training period, he encouraged her to establish her own ashram in the West, so that she could share the teachings of yoga.
Swami Radha has said of her guru, “Yoga is the path of knowledge that permitted me to find the Light within myself, and to discover my own divinity. Gurudev Sivananda, a man of great character, was my inspiration in awakening to this Light.”
Swami Sivananda is the honoured ‘grandfather’ of our lineage, a visionary for his time.