MA YOGA SHAKTI
Guru Purnima - July 3rd
I first read about Ma Yoga Shakti in Daughters of the Goddess by Linda Johnsen and was really impressed. Ma is a guru and yogini who really lives a full life. She was born on April 6, 1927 and grew up in Benares. She has Masters of Arts in Political Science and was a principal at women's college in Bihar.
She is a woman who had it all as an educator, political reformer and homemaker. You might call her an educated political housewife before she became a spiritual teacher. In 1956 she founded the Annie Besant Lodge of the Theosophical Society at Chapra. In 1961 she did something very radical. She renounced the world and joined the holy order of Sanyasa. In 1969 she was named Shakti Sant Shiromani at the Ujjan Kumba Mela. In 1974 she received the title of Maha Mandleshwar at the Kumbha at Hardiwar. In 2000 she received the Hindu Renaissance Award as Hindu of the Year.
This 85 year old woman is full of life and energy. Yoga is her greatest calling. She says she does not have one guru. Ma says, "For me, all are my teachers. I learn from each and everyone." Ma believes that yoga is a great philosophy for the West because it helps us deal with stress and with challenges of modern life. It helps us heal body, mind, spirit. She teaches hatha yoga, raja yoga, karma yoga and bhakti yoga.
She welcomes and loves all. Her philosophy is very straight forward and real. She promotes speaking the truth and acting honestly. She encourages everyone to set a goal in life. She is practical in her philosophy. She says her mission is "to test the truth of Divine Wisdom spoken and handed down by tradition by the ancient seers of India." Her legacy is "to do good, be good, think and speak good all the time." She is very much about self-empowerment for she believes "everyone is always free to change his/her own life for good."
To help people improve their lives, she started ashrams in Florida, New York, India and London. The Palm Bay Ashram is in Florida near the St. John's River Basin. She has developed lectures and satsangs, besides hatha yoga classes for Sunday mornings. Weekend retreats are offered by Ma from time to time.
Ma's New York Ashram is in Queens, located close to the JFK Airport. This is her international headquarters where she stays when she is not travelling. Yoga classes, workshops and retreats are available at this ashram.
Her London Ashram is located in Middlesex, England. The Hounslow Yoga Centre has yoga classes. This an opportunity for those in England and Europe to take advantage of her teachings and philosophy.
She has several missions in India: Yoga Shakti Mission in Mumbai, Yoga Shakti Mission in New Delhi, Shree Ma Yoga Shakti Divyadham Trust in Hardiwar and Yoga Shakti Mission Chennai in Madras.
Besides the ashrams she has published several books, including: Yoga Syzygy - 2nd Edition, Techniques of Meditation, Shri Satya Naryana Katha, Hanuman Chalisa, A Spiritual Message, and Invisible Psychic Lotuses. For more information on Ma go to www.yogashakti.org.
It all started for her with grandmother offering prayers to Lord Shiva, getting up at 3 a.m. and chanting. The grandmother recited The Gita, besides making Ayurvedic Medicines. I remember by own grandmother and how she canned vegetables and fruits and lived her life close to the earth. She loved flowers, which she called Honeysuckles. She collected eggs and helped grandfather on the farm. In her own way she was a yogini teaching us about food and life. Ma Shakti also loves to eat fruits, such as mangoes. She says she plans to grow fruit trees, so that others can enjoy fruit.
Ma Yoga Shakti is one of the many female gurus and yoginis we celebrate on Guru Purnima. It is a day to honor all the gurus (spiritual teachers) in your life. Always remember the greatest gurus are the ones who bring out the knowledge dawning within yourself. The greatest gurus are the ones who develop the most masters. The greatest gurus encourage you to develop critical thinking skills by encouraging you to ask challenging questions. The greatest gurus develop a relationship with their students where you have an opportunity to learn from each other. You can mentor each other to a better life. I am grateful for gurus like Ma and to my own guru, Pandit Munelal Maharaj, who always encourages the light of knowledge within myself and others.
JAI SHRI GURU PURNIMA! JAI SHRI MA YOGA SHAKTI! JAI SHRI GURU!