Thursday, July 28, 2011

Forever young: Swami Yogananda, the 103 years old yogi in Rishikesh

103 years old yogi: Swami Yogananda
One day my friends at the Parmarth Niketan ashram told me "Hey, we met an amazing 103 years old yogi called Swami Yogananda and he is going to give us a class tomorrow at 6am, do you wanna join?". "Yeah, absolutely!" I replied. Imagine that, a yoga class with this 103 years old yogi in front of the Holy Ganga River in Rishikesh! Amazing, and for sure, if somebody knows the secret to health and longevity it is him.

This was one of the funniest and most joyful experience that I've had in India. His class was just amazing. It was not a very rigorous class focus on alignment or perfection on asanas. Instead he just quickly taught us a pretty long serie of interesting warm up exercises and a few asanas. I guess he was aware that we wouldn't be able to learn much just in a couple of days so he just wanted to demonstrate as many exercises as possible to give us an idea of what his yoga could offer us.

The warm up exercises were a combination of joints exercises, breathing techniques (Kapalabhati or breath of fire) in different body positions similar to those from kundalini yoga, and different body movements to stimulate energy flows in the body. He also show us agnisara (abdominal movements), bhandas (energy locks) and advanced pranayamas (breathing practices). All very interesting stuff. But the best thing was his energy and enthusiasm. He was having a lot of fun teaching yoga to these westerners, for sure one of his secrets to longevity.

Swami Yogananda 103 years old
Relax! he said to her

He asked us to run on the same place touching our buttocks with our heels and then all of a sudden he would shout "faster!" and a few seconds later he would shout "super fast!". We just couldn't stop laughing. Later on during the day we would always remember his "Faster!, Superfast!".

He showed us the "tiger walk" were we were supposed to take a few steps while at the same time roaring like tigers, pretty funny, and we did also a few exercises similar to those on laughter yoga. He said in Hindi "pretend that you meet an old friend and you start laughing at him". When we were doing the asanas all of a sudden he would shout "chair!" and perform the chair posture. So much fun believe me.

Swami Yogananda 103 years
Swami Yogananda showing off! :-D
He would regularly shout "every body around is sick and dying because they don't do this exercise! but look at me! I will live until 150 years!". "Look at my legs, no wrinkles!". He also said "I could keep going on with the class for four hours but you would get too tired". And he was right, his two hour class was more than enough for us. He didn't really speak English, just a few words, but luckily there was a girl from the ashram that was trying to translate as much as possible for us.

He told us "80% of what you eat is for the doctor, 20% is for you. Drop the 80% and you'll have a long healthy life". He show us some mudras (hand gestures) for loosing weight. I asked him "what about gaining weight?" and he shouted "No!, you gain weight you die!". We all laugh.

Swami Yogananda knows westerners like taking pictures so he seems to be always prepared. At the end of the class he gave us this funny hats so we could all have a picture together with him. Hilarious! And as soon as he sees a camera he puts his tongue out, it kind of reminded me of that famous Albert Einstein picture.

He didn't charge anything for the class. He just kept repeating "no fees, no charge" but he did offer us some DVDs in English or German for just 100 rupees so we could practice at home and learn the whole sequence.

And after the class was over at 8 am we all took a bath in the cold waters of the holy Ganga river. There is no better way to start your day in Rishikesh!

And guess what..... he even has a Facebook fan page! Isn't that cool? If you want to contact him you can find an e-mail address in his fan page otherwise you might find him at the Parmarth Niketan Ashram, he seems to visit it regularly.

But there is another really interesting story here to tell. One of my friends, Paul, a Ninjitsu (martial arts) teacher, had a dream with Swami Yogananda before meeting him. He said that in his dream this old yogi taught him some pranayamas (breathing practices). And just a few days later he recognized the yogi at the Parmarth Niketan Ashram where we were all staying! How cool is that? It was thanks to Paul that we all met him. This makes me thing that this 103 years old yogi might be very funny and humble old-young man but there is a lot more about him that we cannot perceive, we can only see the tip of the iceberg.


  1. Hi,
    I am very keen in learning yoga and knowing more about swami Yogananda please someone guide me how to get to know more about him and yoga.
    Tarun New Zealand

  2. Hi Tarun, check his Facebook page. You might be able to find the info that you need there. The link is in the second to last paragraph

  3. Thanks Marco,
    The only thing I could find is the email address is there any more information on him elsewhere


  4. Nop, sorry I don't have any more details about him. Try to contact him to his email and see if you get any response. Good luck!

  5. We met him this February and he started scolding my father for being over weight :) I will be putting up the conversations he and my father had on my blog soon. You are more than welcome to visit....but you might need some help with translations. You are right he is funny and active and extremely homest.

  6. oh! i missed him when i went to Rishikesh, if only I had seen your blog earlier :(


    Swami Yogananda ji now in Europe tour

    He will stay their next 3 month.

    See all of you soon
    Have a nice yoga Life

    Swami Yogananda ji

  8. hello marco, this is prem can u kindly tell me how much they are collecting in hotel roms at risikesh???

  9. Hi Prem, sorry for the late reply. But prices can vary greatly, I think the very minimum would be around 500 rupees for a room in a guesthouse, but you could also find more fancy places with AC for a much higher price.

  10. hi Marcho Pino,

    Could you please let me know the link or contacts details.
    I am in search of good ashramam in india for a spritiual vacation which includes yoga, meditation and some good time to see my innerself and overall life time experience.. kindly help with details.
    intially when i got in this paga thinking its paramahamsa yogaananda but surprised to see to find this yoga of 103 years. wonderful..

  11. Dear Ones,

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    The said information and how to practice Immortal White Light Kriya Yoga is free for all children of Babaji.

  12. Swami Yogananda has just died. God Bless His Soul.