Recently, we’ve received a number of questions about where we are rooted and about the guy sitting on our altars, Swami Satchidananda. Although many of our teachers have their own traditions, Swamiji (what a swami is affectionately called) and Sivakami Sonia Sumar, founder of Yoga for the Special Child, are the guides and inspiration for our studio. So in honor of Father’s Day next week, we’re exploring our yogic lineage in more depth.
Who is Swami Satchidananda?
Sat = Truth, Chid = Knowledge, Ananda = Bliss
Swami Satchidananda is the founder of Integral Yoga and credited with being one of the first yoga masters to bring yoga to the west. He was invited to New York in 1966 by artist Peter Max and had a great influence on young Americans of the day. Swamiji gave the official opening remarks at the Woodstock Festival in 1969, with “a message of peace, hope and encouragement."
Integral Yoga brings six branches of yoga together, Hatha, Raja, Jnana, Karma, Bhakti, and Japa Yoga. It is designed to integrate an individual’s mind, body and soul. Swamiji often said “truth is one, paths are many,” meaning that we may all take our own path toward the truth.
Who is Sivakami Sonia Sumar?
If you’ve been taking classes with us for a while, you’ve probably heard us mention her before… Sivakami is the founder of Yoga for the Special Child, the pioneering yoga method for kids with special needs. Sivakami created this method after her younger daughter, Roberta was born with Downs Syndrome.
Her work with Roberta was so impressive, that she was asked to teach other students with special needs at schools and in her yoga center in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Later, word about her students’ progress spread and she was asked to speak about her work at conferences internationally, where she met Swami Satchidananda, who became her guru.
Now she brings her training programs all over the world (and aren’t we lucky, we’re hosting one this July!), preparing parents, special education teachers, yoga teachers, therapists and healthcare professionals to teach the YSC method. Sivakami is also the author of the book Yoga for the Special Child, which has been published in English, Portuguese and Chinese. Find out more about the upcoming YSC training.
The gentle but effective approaches that YSC utilizes “have been improving the lives of children and adults with special needs for over 40 years,” including Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Autism, ADD/ADHD, Scleroderma, Microcephaly, and other developmental and learning disabilities.
I hope this post gives you a sense of where we come from and a peak into where we’re going. We believe that a yoga studio has an important job to do – serving its community by providing a friendly and peaceful place to gather with others and experience the essential truth within each of us. We consider our community an extension of our family, so we are honored that you bring your roots to grow here too.
Happy Father’s Day!
Erin Haddock is the director of Five Keys Yoga, LLC.