About Us

We are creating a dynamic model for how to live in this new Age of Energy. As our Guru Yogananda said: “Simple living and high thinking leads to the greatest happiness.” Yogananda also said that the need for small communities would spread like wildfire in the future. In the Expanding Light Ashram, we are living Yogananda’s teachings in our daily lives.

The aim of the Expanding Light Ashram is to create a supportive environment to help its residents deepen their attunement and discipleship to Paramhansa Yogananda and realize their highest potential in God. Through daily meditation, self-discipline, right attitudes, satsang, selfless service, and divine friendship, we seek to make the divine a tangible, loving reality in our lives—and share that love with others.



History

In Spring of 2019, four former interns of the Ananda Village Internship Program 2019 having completed Ananda’s membership process as official Ananda village members united to form the Farm Ashram Program with the purpose to live and work together in support of Ananda farms and the upcoming summer internship program. At the end of summer, Ananda leadership taking the suggestion of two of our ashram members responded to the closing of Ananda’s Expanding Light Retreat center by allowing the Farm Ashram to grow into an established ashram magnetizing other young devotees at the village to live and grow together in service and in attunement to God and Guru. The Expanding Light Ashram now has 13 full time residents who serve in different areas of Ananda Village. We look forward to growing and learning together on the spiritual path.

Meet our Ashram Residents


Sundara


I came to Ananda through the book “Sharing Nature with Children” by Joseph Bharat Cornell, a world-renowned author and longtime Ananda member. I first read the Autobiography of a Yogi in highschool and slowly but surely got more and more interested in learning Kriya Yoga and living in community. Since Moving to Ananda in 2008 I’ve served at the Crystal Hermitage Gardens, the Expanding Light Karma Yoga Program, as well as leading Sharing Nature Trainings for adults around the world. Currently my wife Nandadevi and I help to support and lead the Expanding Light Ashram through divine friendship, joy, and sharing inspiration. I’ve found that Ashram life has helped me to find creative ways to bring God and Guru into my life more consistently in my daily activities.

Favorite Quote: “If you could feel even a particle of divine love, so great would be your joy – so overpowering– you couldn’t contain it.” –Paramhansa Yogananda

Ben


Hello Dear Ones. My name is Ben. I first came to Ananda in 2016 for the Karma Yoga program, a work trade immersion program at the Expanding Light Retreat Center. I continued to follow the teachings after I left, through Sunday Service online broadcasts and the Ananda Meditation App, and I returned to Ananda a number of times to take Kriya initiation and visit the Expanding Light. I knew that there was something special here that I had always been seeking. I returned to Ananda for the Summer Internship Program in 2019 and I have been here ever since. I have served at the K-12 Living Wisdom School, at the Meditation Retreat, Ananda Farm and Master’s Market. I love the variety of activities and opportunities there are within the community. I’ve learned a lot about self-reliance. Currently at the EL Ashram we all divide up the roles of leading group meditations and cooking meals, chores and landscaping. I am so grateful for the opportunity to live a spiritual life with my wife Catarina and our friends.

Favorite Quote: Even a little practice of this inner-religion will free one from dire fears and colossal sufferings.” – The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita by Swami Kriyananda

Nandadevi


Hi friends! My name is Nandadevi, and I am originally from Argentina. My husband, Sundara, and I serve leading the Ashram Program for those souls who feel in tune with the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda as expressed both by Yogananda himself, and his direct disciple and founder of Ananda, Swami Kriyananda.

My role within the ashram is not so much a defined role, but to be a presence and support for the group with my husband, Sundara. I also have a full time job at Meditation Bench.com making different supplies for the practice of meditation, such as benches and cushions.

Even though the Ashram program is in its early stages, living along with like minded souls has helped me to relate to others in ways I hadn’t experienced before. It has opened my mind and heart to relate to other people’s realities other than my own. And to continue growing in a personal relationship with the Divine in others.

Favorite Quote: “God is simple, everything else is complex.” I often think of this quote in the midst of life, when things seem to be getting too big for me to handle or understand. I ask God to help me, and remember that He is simple; if I can bring His presence and simplicity into my life, things turn around for the better.” – Paramhansa Yogananda

Meerabai


Hello, I’m Meerabai. I am originally from North Carolina. For several years, I worked at the Smithsonian Institution and DHHS in Washington, D.C.—I left DHHS to have more time freedom to pursue spirituality on a deeper level and to write my book Sacred Soul Seeds. I am currently pursuing a PhD in metaphysical counseling and theocentric psychology.

After living in Florida for six years, on December 21, 2013, I arrived at Ananda Village and served as a karma yogi. During that time, I discovered my Guru, Paramhansa Yogananda and read his life-changing book, Autobiography of a Yogi.

Currently, I live at the Ashram and serve as editor/distributor of The Villager, the Ananda Village newsletter. I am certified in Ananda meditation, yoga, and spiritual counseling. I also coordinate the annual Shivaratri celebrations and facilitate virtual vision board workshops. I help promote Ananda businesses and enjoy entrepreneurial and webmaster adventures. I am so blessed to serve at the Expanding Light Ashram with a beautiful group of souls within my larger Ananda family. I look forward to meeting you online or in-person when the universe permits.

One of my favorite quotes: “You can know God within, in the Peace and Bliss of Meditation, then realize Him as Peace existing in the harmony of all things without. Forget your little isolated life-wave, and know yourself as a part of the great human family, one with Universal Life.” – Paramhansa Yogananda, Praeceptum #52/4

Gayatri


Welcome friends,

My name is Gayatri and my search for truth led me to the Ananda Meditation Retreat in 2017. I lived and served here for several years, attuning myself with the vibration of stillness and diving deep into the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda. So much healing, discovery, growth, and joy was found during this time.

I now live at the Expanding Light Ashram and am deeply grateful for the friendships. There is a depth and understanding in the friendships at Ananda that I haven’t found in other relationships. A friendship that unconditionally supports and uplifts one in their search for God.

Serving as part of Ananda Worldwide’s Development Team, it gives me great inspiration to see how Yogananda’s teachings are blessing so many seekers around the world. As a certified yoga and meditation teacher and registered nurse, it fills my heart to support fellow nurses by sharing these tools and techniques that have changed my life.

I enjoy cooking, spending time in the mountains, crocheting, and playing games.
I look forward to getting to know each one of you 🙂

Favorite Quote: Love is the light that dissolves all walls between souls, families and nations. ~ Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramhansa Yogananda

Arya


Hello, my name is Arya. I feel very blessed to get to live with best friends who are always introspecting, striving to become the best versions of themselves and be a channel for God and Guru.

I first came to Ananda Village eleven years ago from Hong Kong to visit my friends for the summer. This summer vacation turned into a decision to attend the Ananda Living Wisdom School. I wasn’t initially attracted to Yogananda, but the kindness and magnetism of Ananda people encouraged me to try meditation and yoga because I wanted to become like them – generous, energetic, kind and happy.

Over the course of the last ten years, I became a disciple and kriyaban. I also am certified in Ananda meditation and spiritual counseling, will be soon also certified in Ananda Yoga! I look forward to sharing these spiritual teachings – they really work!

I am currently serving at Master’s Market kitchen, where I get to chop veggies and learn to cook from a master chef. I also serve at Ananda Permaculture & Ananda Farms, where I not only get to garden and harvest exotic and local fruits and vegetables, but also learn about herbs, tinctures, and natural health remedies from longtime devotees. Behind the scenes at the ashram, I help with outreach and web development for the Ananda Village Internship Program and the Expanding Light Ashram.

Living at the ashram helps me to put God first, while also allowing a balance for spiritual, intellectual, personal and practical endeavors. I have the time, space, and support to deepen my meditation practice, partake in Ananda Yoga Teacher Training Online, experiment with creative projects like soap and bread making, and serve in the community. Sometimes it is not easy to live here because every person acts as a flawless mirror for my imperfections, but the unconditionally loving and supportive energy of the ashram encourages me to fully accept myself for where I’m at and to take the courageous next step.

Favorite Quote: “Kindness is the light that dissolves all walls between souls, families, and nations” ~ Paramhansa Yogananda

Catarina


Hi! I’m Catarina.I’m from Finland and I found Ananda when I was a visiting researcher at Stanford. Before moving to the Bay Area 2012 I had come across the Autobiography and I immediately recognized the picture of Yogananda on a “learn to meditate poster” when I was having lunch in Palo Alto one day. I realized that I was just living a few blocks from the Ananda temple in Palo Alto and started going there, rest is history! 🙂

Here at Ananda Village I serve with Online with Ananda. We create courses and manage an online community that has about 350 members from around the world. At the EL Ashram, I co-create with all the other beautiful Ashram participants. Together we envision a brighter future based on the ideal of simple living and high thinking, create programs and share this way of life with those that would like to try it out. I love living with friends that have spiritually high ideals, we support each other to heal, to grow and become that which our soul came to this planet to be.

My favorite quote of Yogananda: “Deeper states of meditation come automatically as we peel away the layers of tension” because the key is deep relaxation.

Danielle


Hi beautiful souls!

My name is Danielle and I am from New Jersey. I stumbled upon Ananda’s website in September 2019 and felt very drawn to the Karma Yoga program. In October 2019 I purchased a one way plane ticket to the Expanding Light Retreat.

Before coming to the program I was looking to go deeper in yoga and meditation. I always believed in a power greater than myself but couldn’t define what that looked liked.

After arriving in the village and experiencing the universal love, humility and inner peace Paramahansa Yogananda’s teachings cultivated in the people around me, I knew I was home. The peace and calmness that mediation, yoga, chanting and the teachings provide is immeasurable. Being able to share these practices with my peers has been transformational and so much fun!

I currently serve at the Crystal Hermitage and help with the Yoga Teacher Training Program. My role at the Ashram can be best described as a willing and eager student. The Ashram has given me the space to grow, heal and learn. I feel very fortunate to be a part of this program with inspiring individuals who motivate me to keep looking inward instead of outward for the answers to life’s trials.

Favorite Quote:
“The first proof of God’s presence is an ineffable peace. This evolves into joy humanly inconceivable. Once you have touched the Source of truth and life, all nature will respond to you. Finding God within, you will find Him without, in all people and all conditions.” – Paramhansa Yogananda

Matthew


Hello. My name is Matthew. I was born and raised in Kansas. I serve with property services, Ananda permaculture, Ananda Farm, and also for a gentleman named Willy who is a contractor. Every area brings a unique perspective to the overall theme of self-realization. Different tasks and conscious relationships throughout serving and the ashram create a dynamic environment for change and harmonious living. It is a constant reminder of how I choose to tune into that higher flow of energy or how I choose to separate Myself and get lost in the repeated patterns that sink me to the depths of my subconscious tendencies.

My role in the ashram is to have the ability to relate to others’ realities maturely and become a clearer channel for God and Guru. This can be relayed through dishes and cleaning as well as deep conversations, prayer and meditation to name but a few of the myriad ways to remain poised in the now. Living with these wonderful souls has changed my reality greatly. It has given me the ability to consistently face myself whenever things have been neglected and be gentle towards my shortcomings. There are so many beautiful cultures and personalities here that have the divine ensconced in every moment. My story gets lifted and intertwines to the higher potential that is in abundance within this Ray.

Be thou my Beacon of Wisdom: “If, driven by squalls of ignorance, my mind raft nears the dangerous rocks of insatiable desires, mayest Thou warn me, O Beacon of Wisdom! I am ever seeking the safe shores of righteousness.”- Paramhansa Yogananda.

Rachel


Sterling


I came to Ananda when I was 18, during a transitional time in my life. I was tired of the habits and image I had put on myself and was inwardly looking for true purpose and meaning. My service in the community consists of construction, tractor work, farming as well as helping to take care of the beautiful land we live on. Here at the ashram I am a spiritual friend to all and enjoy supporting people in building a positive and uplifting environment. Living in the ashram has been a profound experience in many ways and has been a catalyst in my own personal development. Working together, eating together, meditating and creating together, have shaped me into a better version of myself and given me the tools to succeed in daily life.

Favorite Quote: “When perfect friendship exists, either between two hearts or within a group of hearts in a spiritual organization, such friendship perfects each individual.”~ Yoganandaji

Janaka


Hello my name is Janaka and I have been living at Ananda Village in different ashram houses for the past two years. I first came to the Village to take a Meditation Teacher Training Course at the Expanding LIght. I went back to Chicago where I am originally from and started to teach a few classes but quickly found that my own personal practice needed more support before I could really share meditation with others.

About two years later I returned to the Village to participate in the summer internship program. It also happened to be the same summer as the 50th anniversary of Ananda and about 1,000 Yogis from all over the world came to the Village to celebrate. It was a life changing experience! I think that being immersed in the magnetism of so many sincere meditators helped to strengthen my own practice and commitment to the spiritual path.

Since then I have decided that I would do what I could to help other truth seekers like myself to find a place where their highest aspirations would be supported. That goal has taken the form of working construction to build an ashram house, serving in the village maintenance department, helping to develop permaculture gardens, and learning about a new system of education based on yogic principles. I was also fortunate to help facilitate an internship program with some of my friends whom I met the year before where our main project was working on an organic farm with some amazing yogis!
It has been an incredible journey. I have formed some very strong friendships and have meditated deeply. In the process of self discovery I have found an increasing joy within!

Favorite Quote: “Through meditation you will find that within your heart you are carrying a portable paradise.” ~ Paramhansa Yogananda

Peter