American Yoga Association
Originally founded in 1971 as the Light of Yoga Society by
Alice Christensen, a disciple of Swami Rama of Haridwar, India
(1900–1972) (not to be confused with Swami Rama of the Himalayan
International Institute of Yoga Science and Philosophy).
Swami Rama left his home in the 1920s to practice yoga
and wander through the Himalayas. After three decades as a
recluse, he settled in Haridwar as a yoga teacher.
Alice Christensen’s yoga practice began with a vision of
bright light that she experienced in 1953. She subsequently
corresponded for many years with Swami Sivananda
(1887–1963), founder of the Divine Life Society in Rishikesh,
India. The year after Swami Sivananda’s death, she met her
own guru, Swami Rama, and spent a year in India studying with
him. After he appointed her his representative in the West,
Christensen returned to the U.S. in 1965 to lecture and teach
yoga and to gather a group of students.
The Light of Yoga Society transmitted the teachings of
Swami Rama, who simplified the complex wisdom of the Vendanta
and developed it as a practical tool for Western practitioners.
The society’s program started with hatha yoga asanas
and meditation, both to be practiced daily. Other practices recommended
were vegetarianism, the restrained use of sex, the
practice of ahimsa (nonviolence), and the avoidance of alcohol,
tobacco, and drugs. During the life of Swami Rama, he guided
eleven centers in India, Australia, and the U.S.
In 1982 the society was renamed the American Yoga Association,
and has since functioned out of two centers, one in Cleveland
Heights, Ohio, and another in Sarasota, Florida. the association
produces instructional books, videos as well as
meditation tapes. One of their most unique program is ‘‘Easy
Does It Yoga’’ for seniors and those with physical challenges.
The program is known for helping the elderly and handicapped
regain independence through strengthening their boEncyclopedia
of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed. American Yoga Association
dies. Address P.O. Box 19986, Sarasota, FL 34276. Website
American Yoga Association. http April 19,2000.
Christensen, Alice, and David Rankin. The Light of Yoga Society
Beginner’s Manual. Cleveland Heights, Ohio Om Ram Production,
1972. Revised edition as The American Yoga Association
Beginner’s Manual. New York Simon & Schuster, 1987.

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