Gitananda Yoga Association of Australia INC.

Australian registered Body Number : 105 451 527
Incorporation Number : A37776
Registered Office : 24 Sharon Avenue, Parafield Gardens 5107 ,
South Australia Contact No 0430 089 073

A BRIEF HISTORY OF GITANANDA YOGA IN AUSTRALIA

Yogamaharishi Dr Swami Gitananda Giri was one of the pioneers of Yoga awareness in Australia and his influence down under has been tremendous. He made many tours of Australia in the late 1960s of which an important event was the Sixth International Yoga Convention held in Richmond, Australia, organised by Roma Blair (Swami Nirmalananda) in September 1969.

According to Leigh Blashki, director of the Australian Institute of Yoga Therapy and the Australian Institute of Yoga, and developer of Australia 's government accredited Advanced Diploma of Yoga Teaching, "Because the concept of Yoga therapy in Australia is vague and ill-defined, as is true in many other countries, documenting its history also can only be vague and approximate. It can probably be argued that Yoga therapy, while not known by that name, made its way to Australia with both the Iyengar method and the Satyananda tradition, both of which started to become popular in the late 1970s. Yoga therapy in its own right, however, has enjoyed a small but dedicated following since the mid 1990s, influenced primarily by Swami Gitananda, T. K. V. Desikachar, and A. G. Mohan. The common feature of Yoga therapy from these traditions is the use of personalized, one-on-one consultations, as would apply with any other health care practitioner. A more overt therapeutic approach has been employed by a number of teachers in other traditions, particularly Iyengar and Satyananda, wherein classes are designed to address a common therapeutic need of a group of students".

One of Swamiji's oldest disciples Dr Swami Anandakapila (Dr Jonn Mumford) has kept Swamiji's name and spirit alive in Australia, through his phenomenal work and teachings since that time and he is presently the patron ambassador of the Gitananda Yoga Association of Australia. He conducts regular special Yantra courses based on Swamiji's amazing Yantra wisdom at Ananda Ashram, Pondicherry every year since the past decade after his loving meeting with Pujya Swamiji 1993 prior to Swamiji's Maha Samadhi.

In Dr Swami Anandakapila's own words, "There is always one special Guru, and that is the one to whom you give your heart. When I was seventeen years of age I met Swami Gitananda Ji and that meeting began a discipleship of many years. Words could not and can not ever express my gratitude to him, and I don't know what would have become of me had I not met him at that time and benefited so greatly from his teaching and wise guidance. Such techniques as Chakra Dharana, Polarization, and Solar Plexus Charging came from him. He was the first to ever transmit these techniques in the West, and consequently I was able to release them to a wider audience through writing. He was possessed of the most creative mind I have ever encountered and he knew how to release creativity in me - a gift beyond compare!"

Swamiji also gave a Yoga training course for Yoga teachers and students in Sydney after his lectures and practical training at the Sixth International Yoga Convention (September 1969) that was attended by Yoga teachers from interstate including Yoga teachers trained by Miss Margrit Segesman of The Gita School of Yoga, Melbourne. Dr June Henry, Director, Yoga Queensland was one of the select attendees from Melbourne. Included in this course was practical training in Pranayama, for which Swamiji has been greatly renown, his Yoga Nidra in the Southern Indian style, and symbology of the Chakras.

To quote Dr June Henry, "I first heard Swami Gitananda teach at the Richmond Convention. My notes from this convention and the course afterwards I still have, in addition to a beautiful photograph that was taken of Swami Gitananda and myself at the 6th IYTA Convention. The course notes have been of great use over the years in Yoga teaching and application of Yoga in health care and the photograph brings back happy memories of being able to access such great Yoga teachers as Swami Gitananda and Dr Jonn Mumford".

Yogacharini Smt Gitanjali Devi (Gita Anwar Joseph) studied with SWAMIJI in the early 1980s at the Ashram in Thattanchavady and made many more Yoga Sadhana trips to the Ashram in Thattanchavady. She also had the proud privilege of being part of Swamiji's team when he embarked on a grand pilgrimage of the Char Dhams (four holy places) in the Himalayas in 1985. She has continued to teach Gitananda Yoga in Australia since the past three decades and through her teachings and devotion brought about a deeper awareness of Swamiji's intricate Yoga wisdom to many segments of the Australian society. She has also been instrumental in Gitananda Yoga being a part of the International Yoga Teachers Association (IYTA) in many ways and the IYTA newsletter features articles by Swamiji and Yoga Life, the four decades old monthly journal of Ananda Ashram on a regular basis.

Another important student of Swamiji who has made a name for himself is Sri Bala Ratnam, the founder of Vibrational Breath Therapy based on Rishiculture Ashtanga (Gitananda) Yoga. After completing his studies with Swamiji in 1988/89 he embarked on a rigorous Sadhana and today is in his own words "younger than ever".

To quote Sri Bala, "In his wisdom and in keeping with his lineage, revered Swami Gitananda Ji realized that for all round development the teaching of Yoga should be complemented with a participation in the other disciplines as well, and at the Ananda Ashram at Pondicherry you have your fill of the rich heritage and eternal values of India. Living and studying at the Ashram is a soul inspiring experience. Having lived and studied at the Ashram, and also in a few other Ashrams and schools of Yoga and meditation, I can vouchsafe for its superiority. I treasure the memory of my five month long stay with Swamiji at the Ashram in 1988/9. Further Swamiji's teachings were based on science. He realized the truth that the Pranamaya Kosha/Electro-magnetic field was the vital body and all his practices were designed to restore the health of the electromagnetic field, which manifested as good physical and mental health. As a dedicated student, who has practised, experienced, researched and developed one of his practices, Pranava AUM Pranayama, for the last two decades years, I can boldly assert his teachings are true. He was also man of great vision. All the benefits which he associated with the practice have been experienced by me and by my hundreds of students and patients, with serious ailments".

A great many other Australian Yoga enthusiasts have trained at Ananda Ashram, Pondicherry and updated Swamiji's message for Australia and thus it was fitting that in the year 2000 during the Millennium Meet of Gitananda Yoga Sadhakas Worldwide, it was decided that an organised association be formed for the students and teachers of Gitananda Yoga in Australia. To this effect a great amount of work has been done by Yogacharya Devidasan Giri as well as Yogacharya Muralidharan Giri who are senior teachers of Gitananda Yoga as well as being the prime moving forces behind this movement.

The Gitananda Yoga Association of Australia Inc was officially registered in 2003 and now regularly presents different programmes and seminars as well as the annual get together for propagating Gitananda Yoga. A regular contact is maintained with the mother ashram at Pondicherry and both Amma (Yogacharini Meenakshi Devi Bhavanani) and I (Yogacharya Dr Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani) offer our whole hearted support for the success of this association.

About Ananda Ashram, Pondicherry, India