Yogacharya Dr. Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani was born to the world famous Yoga team of Yogamaharishi Dr. Swami Gitananda Giri Guru Maharaj and Puduvai Kalaimamani, Yogamani, Yogacharini, Smt. Meenakshi Devi Bhavanani on April 16, 1972, at Pondicherry, South India.
He was reared in the 'Gurukula' atmosphere of Ananda Ashram, first at Lawspet and then at Sri Kambliswamy Madam in Thattanchavady, Pondicherry where the Yoga Vidya (Knowledge of the Art and Science of Yoga) was imbibed as a 24 hour a day Sadhana and not just a few classes now and then. Nominated as his Guru Father's successor on his fourth birthday itself as Madathiapathy of Sri Kambaliswamy Madam (an ancient Samadhi site), Ananda took great interest in the Hindu Rites and Rituals, Mantra, Yoga and the Carnatic Fine Arts from a young and tender age. He has been trained in Rishiculture Ashtanga (Gitananda) Yoga from that tender age. He has assisted his parents in the Yoga training imparted at Ananda Ashram, Sri Kambaliswamy Madam and ICYER from that time onwards.
He began his studies of classical Carnatic Vocal Music at the age of four years under Puduvai Kalaimamani Shri V Manikannan performing Vocal Music Arangetram at the age of 12 years at Marie Hall, Podicherry on august 11, 1984. At the age of seven years he began arduous training in Carnatic Music under the tutorage of Kalaimamani Srirengam R. Ranganathan of Pondicherry, one of the most famous Carnatic Vocalists of South India. He continued his training for twenty years until his Guru’s death in 2002. He has studied Mridungam since the age of five, beginning with world-famous Master Shri K M Vaidhyanathan in 1977. Later, Thiruvarur Shri R. Krishnamurthy, one of the most respected classical Mridungists of modern times, accepted him as a disciple. He completed his Mridungam Arangetram in 1987. He began the study of Bharata Natyam under his mother Puduvai Kalaimamani Smt Meenakshi Devi Bhavanani in the Kalakshetra tradition of Rukmani Arundale when he was five years of age. At the age of eight, world-famous Bharata Natyam master Padmasri Adyar K. Lakshmanan of Chennai accepted him as a disciple and he performed many performances under the guidance of Lakshman Sir. For the past decade he has shared a special Manasika Guru-Sishya relationship with Padma Bhushan Sri TV Sankaranarayanan, one of India’s greatest vocalists. He treasures all these blessed relations with his illustrious Gurus that the Divine has bestowed upon him in his artistic evolution.
His initial training in scholastic work was in the Ashram itself and only when he was thirteen was he sent to Bhavan's Gandhi Vidyashram, Kodaikanal, to do his formal schooling. At school in addition to his academic proficiency, he was also one of the cricket team's major stars and the all-round Athletic Champion. At school he was awarded the "K.S. Jayarama Iyer Award for Best Instrumentalist" for three successive years. In his final year he served as the School Captain.
He has written a book on Yoga For Children at the age of 12 years itself and has written and edited 19 other books including ‘Yoga And Modern Man’ that takes a look at various Yogic concepts with humorous cartoons and line drawings and “A Yogic Approach To Stress” that deals with the Yogic explanations and management of stress. The 2nd edition of the Stress Book was released recently. His “A Primer Of Yoga Theory” that has also been published in Tamil as “Yoga Vina Vidai Thoguppu” has become a standard textbook for Yoga Sport events and is also prescribed in many academic Yoga courses. It is now in its 3rd edition. “Yoga: 1 TO 10” explains numerous concepts of Yoga and Indian Culture through a numerical codification using the numbers 1 to 10. It has been translated and published in Italian in 2009. He coauthored a Tamil book on Basic Hatha Yoga Lessons of Gitananda Yoga as well as Yoga For Weight Loss. In the past few years he has authored, “Yoga for Health and Healing”, “Yoga for Weight Reduction”, Chakras, Hatha Yoga of the Gitananda Tradition, Meditation the inner Yoga, Yoga and Wellness, Suryanamaskar and Understanding the Yoga Darshan (an exploration of the Yoga Sutra of Maharishi Patanjali).
He has also edited and revised the new editions of Dr Swami Gitananda Giri’s Correction of Breathing Disorders through Rishiculture Ashtanga Yoga and also Pujya Swamiji’s books on Mudras, Surya Namaskar and Pranayama in the Gitananda Tradition. He has had 57 scientific and Yoga papers and 30 scientific abstracts on Yoga and Yoga research published along with 12 notes compilations on Yogic education and therapy.
He has also scripted and presented 18 DVDs on Yoga that are being marketed for a worldwide audience in different languages by the famous Super Audio Company in Chennai.
He undertook the Diploma and Advanced Diploma courses in Yoga at ICYER under the guidance of his Guru-father Yogamaharishi Dr. Swami Gitananda Giri in 1991 and following this joined medical college in order to combine the best of eastern wisdom with the best of modern medical science.
During his Medical Studies at J.N.M.C Wardha (Nagpur University), he was the top student in a class of hundred. He secured Distinction in Surgery and a Gold Medal in Community Medicine in his final year, topping about 500 students from the five Medical Colleges affiliated to Nagpur University. He was also the Student Representative at Medical College. Later he completed his internship at JIPMER Hospital, Pondicherry, India.
He has completed with distinction a two-year, Post Graduate Diploma in Family Health (PGDFH) from Sri Ramachandra Medical College (Deemed University), Chennai (2003). He has also completed a Diploma in Psychological Counseling as well as a Diploma in Stress Management from the Institute for Health Care Administration, Chennai in 2001 and a Certificate in Pediatrics from IMA Sinha Institute, New Delhi.
He was one of the Star performers in the television serial YOGA FOR YOUTH that was first broadcast over New Delhi Doordarshan in November 1989. This series of twenty-five episodes is regularly re-broadcast on the National Doordarshan Channel even to date. His musical concerts and Mridungam have been regularly broadcast over Pondicherry television. He has presented five Yoga programmes on NDTV in February 2008 that have been broadcast numerous times since then.
He was a performer of Bharata Natyam and has performed all over India and notably at the ABHAI National Dance Festival in 1992. Following his father's Maha Samadhi on Dec. 29-1993 he has stopped his dance performances and instead, focused his attention on Dance Choreography, especially in the rhythmic aspect for Yoganjali Natyalayam. He has helped to choreograph 9 Major Dance Dramas and 12 Mini Dance Dramas for Yoganjali Natyalayam in the last eight years. In the last few years he has CO-DIRECTED the “Ramavathara” (2003), “Pancha Maha Bhuta” (2004), “Jayadeva’s Dasavathara” (2005) , “Navagraha Vazhipaadu: A homage to the Navagrahas” (2006), “Karna Charitram” (2007), “Namashivaya Vazhga”- The story of Thiru Gnana Sambandar (2008), Panchali Sabadam (2009) and Muruga Muruga (2010)..He has also recently composed the music as well as choreographed two complete Bharatanatyam Margams (the classical performing repertoire) with more than two dozen compositions that could be called “Ananda Nartana Margam”
As a Carnatic Vocalist and instrumentalist he has released many albums of which "The Yoga of Sound" has the unique blend of English lyrics with Carnatic Raga and Tala in an attempt, to bridge the gap between East and the West. The second Album 'Tamil Inbam' is a collection of Tamil Compositions in Carnatic Music. He is a regular performer at programmes in and around Pondy and has performed at the International Yoga Festival, Government Music Festival, Millennium Sunrise Festival, Thiagaraja Festival, Puduvai Tamil Isai Sangam and Eswaran Koil Kumbabhishekam amongst many others in Pondicherry. He is well known for his spontaneous imagination in the concerts and for his explanations on the Yogic aspects of Carnatic Music. He has performed innumerable vocal and instrumental recitals all over India including in Bombay, Dehra Dun, Chennai, Cochin, Lonavla (Pune), Chidambaram, Bangalore and Pondicherry. It is notable that he has performed three times in the Isai Vizha (Music Festival) conducted by the Govt of Pondicherry in 1998, 2000 and 2003. He has also performed in Italy, Switzerland, Germany, UK, South Africa, USA, Australia and New Zealand in recent times.
He has been a featured speaker at many Yoga conferences and is a regular featured speaker at the International Yoga Festival conducted by the Government of Pondicherry each year in January since 1993. He has also been the Co-ordinator and Jury at the International Yogasana Competition held at the International Yoga Festival – Pondicherry annually and is responsible for organizing the more than 800 contestants who come from all over India to participate. He has also organised Himalaya Yoga Olympiad in Pondicherry (2001) in his capacity as Himalaya State Coordinator and led the Pondy team to the National Himalaya Yoga Olympiad at Bangalore in November 2001.
He is responsible for reviving the Pondicherry Yogasana Association (2000) founded by Yogamaharishi Dr Swami Gitananda Giri in 1975. He is currently the General Secretary of the Pondicherry Yogasana Association and a member of the Executive Committee of Indian Yoga Federation, Kolkata. The PYA has been active in conducting Yoga Sport events such 25 Pondicherry State Level Yoga Sport Championships and ten Swami Gitananda Best Youth and Child Award Competitions.
It is notable that two of his students trained at YOGNAT have won the CHAMPIONSHIP awards in the Pondicherry Government sponsored International Yoga Festival in 1999 (M NIRAIMATHI) and 2011 (AS ANIRUDH).
Yoga for him is not just the performance of a few Asanas or Pranayamas but is a means for evolution of the human mind in to further states of consciousness and awareness.
He has been instrumental in developing the concept of “Yoga Tableaus” as a performing art and has trained hundreds of young people in the difficult art of acrobatic Yoga Asanas. The Yoga-Asana Tableau Concept has been developed by Dr. Ananda a vital tool in inculcating the sense of “team spirit and mutual cooperation” into youngsters. His pioneering efforts in this field have been widely applauded. As well, Dr. Ananda has been a pioneer in the revival of the use of the acrobatic Natya Karanas (difficult, athletic and acrobatic postures of Bharata Natyam) into the modern dance repertoire. With his finely developed aesthetic sense, he tastefully weaves these acrobatic poses into his classical dance choreography and productions.
As chairperson of Yoganjali Natyalayam he has coordinated programmes at Bangalore (sVYASA), Chennai (Arkaya Foundation), Alangudi (Guru Stalam), Kodaikanal (Bhavan’s Gandhi Vidyashram), Tanjore (Salangai Natham 2004 for the South Zone Cultural Centre) and Mahe (Varnam 2004 for the Dept of Art and Culture). He also coordinated the Yognat team’s performance during the Cultural Procession marking the 50th year of Pondicherry Independence in August 2004. He has also coordinated the spectacular annual day celebrations of Yognat for the past 17 years along with the annual full length dance drams productions by Yognat. He has also coordinated many programmes for the Pondicherry Music and Dance Artistes Association in the past few years.
Even in his formative years, he attended various Yoga Conferences and seminars at New Delhi, Bombay, Lonavla, Bhopal, Bangalore, Chennai, Kancheepuram, Madurai and other places along with his parents. He also assisted in the conduct of three International Yoga Conferences conducted at Pondicherry by Ananda Ashram under Dr. Swami Gitananda and Smt Meenakshi Devi Bhavanani and has been ex-officio advisor to the International Yoga Festival of the Pondicherry Government for the past 18 years.
He has had the good fortune of meeting and receiving the blessings of numerous Great Yoga Masters such as Swami Chidanada, Swami Chinmayananda, Swami Satchidananada, Swami Dayananda, Swami Digambarji, BKS Iyengar, Sri Yogendra Desai, Sri TK Desikachar, Sant Keshav Das, Sri Amrit Desai, Sri Direndra Brahmachari and Sri Yogeshwar. He has also been privileged to receive the blessings of eminent Scientist Yogis such as Shri RR Diwakar, Dr K Arunachalam, Dr B Ramamurthy, Prof TR Anantaraman, Dr W Selvamurthy, Dr RL Bijlani, Dr Nagendra, Dr Nagaratna, Dr MV Bhole, Dr SV Rao, Dr RP Pandey, Dr Khapre, Dr SR Joharapurkar and Dr Madanmohan.
As a Mridungist he has accompanied great artists like Padma Bhushan T.V. Sankaranaarayanan, Kalaimamani Srirengam Ranganathan, Kalaimamani Kulikkarai S.P. Vishvalingam, Vidushi Radha Kalyanaraman, Kalaimamani SMatangi, Shri B Govindarajan, Kumbakonam MR Gopinath, Kalaimamani SV Jagadeesan etc. on the Mridungam and is a 'B' Grade Mridangist recognized by All India Radio. He regularly plays for Yoganjali Natyalayam dance performances. He has played Mridungam for Sendhen Tamilisai, a Music Album by Kalaimamani Pulavar I Pattabiramane in 2002 as well as Bhakti Mani Mala, a music album sung by Smt Jyothirmayi (2003). He has also played Mridungam in the Music Therapy Albums of Dr Hariharan PhD.
He is a life member of the INDIAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION; AbHai (Association of Bharata Natyam Artists of India); Chennai, IAYT (International Association of Yoga Therapists, based in U.S.A);, APPI (Association of Physiologists and Pharmacologists of India), Indian Academy of Yoga, BHU, Varanasi and the PONDICHERRY PSYCHOLOGY ASSOCIATION.
He is Honorary International Advisor to the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT) in the USA, the Australian Association of Yoga Therapists and on Editorial Advisory Board for Yoga Mimansa journal of Kaivalyadhama, Lonavla, India.
He is the Hon Chairman of the Sanathana Dharma Sangha, the Hindu Movement in Italy and Europe as well as more than one hundred Rishiculture Ashtanga (Gitananda) Yoga centres all over the world. He is also Patron of the Gitananda Yoga Associations of Australia, Spain, Germany, United Kingdom North America and Italy.
He has traveled abroad NINE TIMES and given workshops, classes, lectures, performances and talks in USA (San Francisco), UK (Cornwall and Wales), Italy (Rome, Milan, Liverno, Genova and Savona), Switzerland (Locarno), Germany (Berlin), Australia (Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Gold Coast and Victoria), New Zealand (Paraparaumu), South Africa (Cape Town). He was a featured Guest at the MILAN YOGA FESITVAL 2007 and 2008 where he gave successful workshops and performed concerts of South Indian Music for an appreciative audience. He was a featured guest presenter at the International Yoga therapy conference in San Rafael, USA where he lectured and taught in October 2008. He has given invited talks at the Tagore centre of the Indian Embassy in Berlin in 2007 and 2008. He was invited guest of the National Institute of Integrative Medicine, Melbourne in April 2009. He has taught and performed at the GITANANDA ASHRAM in Italy on all of his five visits to the “MINI INDIA” that has been created in Savona by Svami Yogananda Giri.
He was recently invited to be MAJOR PRESENTER at the “REUNION IN YOGA”- IYTA WORLD YOGA CONVENTION held at Sydney, Australia from 16 to 19 September 2010. Nearly 200 delegates attended the WORLD CONVENTION that was held after a gap of 13 years. It is to be noted that previous such invitees have been Swami Satyananada Saraswathi, Swami Gitananda Giri, Swami Satchitananda, BKS Iyengar, Andre Van Lysbeth, Lilias Folan, Howard Kent, Mansukh Patel and Swami Maheshwarananda.
Dr. Ananda is a Senior Lecturer in Mantra, Yantra, Yoga History and Philosophy and Yoga Physiology and Anatomy for the fully residential Yoga Teachers Training Courses at the International Centre for Yoga Education and Research (ICYER) in Kottakuppam, Tamil Nadu. These full time residential courses, the Six Month International Yoga Teachers Training Course and the One Year Yoga Teachers Diploma Courses are well established and presented to an international professional standard. These courses have been held annually since 1968 and students from all over the world attend these Yoga Teachers Training courses.
Dr. Ananda is a the Chairman of the International Centre for Yoga Education and Research (ICYER) in Kottakuppam, Tamil Nadu, an internationally acclaimed Yoga Institute established as “Ananda Ashram” in 1968. He is Chairman of Yoganjali Natyalayam, a world famous Institute of Yoga, Bharata Natyam, and Carnatic Music established in Pondicherry in 1993. He is also Director of studies for both these Institutes
He has received the Marudha Ramalinganar OUTSTANDING YOUNG PERSON AWARD and Rolling Shield for the year 2002 from the Youth Peace Centre, Pondicherry and received the title award of “Yoga Vibhushan” from Tamil Nadu State Yoga Association and Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu (Tuticorin) at the 15th Tamil Nadu State Yogasana Championship held at Kovilpatti, Tuticorin Dist, Tamil Nadu in August 2003.
He received the title award of “Yoga Bishmacharya” from the Tirumoolar Yoga and Natural Diet Trust, Chennai and Tamil Nadu State Yoga Association at the Tamil Nadu State Yogasana Championship held at Chennai in November 2004.He has been honoured with the “Yoga Chakravarthy” title awarded by Gitanjali Yoga Centre in September 2005.Other titles and awards received by him are “Palkalai Chemmal”, “Sagala Kala Vallavan”, “Isai Sevagan”, “Puduvai Mannin Maindhan”, “Achiever Award 2003”, “Jnana Vruddha”, “Muthaizh Suvaignar”, “Mattala Vittaga Mamani”, “Sevai Thilagam” ,“Shiva Yoga Chudar”, “Yoga Kalaimamani”,“Yoga Thilagam”,“ Saivneri Isai Chemmal” and “Sri Aurobindo Award”.
He was recently honoured for his Yoga Seva by Kumari Selja Union Minister for Tourism during the 18th international Yoga Festival 2011 in the presence of Sri V Narayanasamy, Union Minister for Culture, Lt Governor of Pondicherry Dr Iqbal Singh, Chief Minister Sri Vaithiyalingam, Home Minister Sri Valsaraj, Tourism Minister Sri Malladi Krishna Roa and Social Welfare Minster Sri Kandasamy. He was also awarded the “LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD IN FIELD OF YOGA” on January 7th 2011 by the Department of Tourism, Govt of Pondicherry during the 18th international yoga festival, Pondicherry-Jan, 2011.
He worked for four years from 2000 to 2004 as a SENIOR RESEARCH FELLOW in the Yoga Research Project conducted by the Department of Physiology, JIPMER under the auspices of the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare as well as Ministry of Defense, Govt. of India, New Delhi. He is involved in various research studies at JIPMER and has published numerous scientific papers on these findings.
He worked as MEDICAL OFFICER in the Village Health Programme and the Child to Child Health Education Programme run by the AUROVILLE HEALTH CENTRE in the International Township of Auroville, Tamil Nadu from 1999 to 2000 and again from 2004 to 2008.
He is at present PROGRAMME COORDINATOR in the Advanced Centre for Yoga Therapy, Education and Research (ACYTER), JIPMER, Puducherry from March 2009 onwards.
He is happily married to Yogacharini Devasena Bhavanani who has a Masters degree in Sanskrit in addition to being a Yoga Expert, Carnatic Vocalist and Bharatanatyam Dancer, teacher and choreographer. They have a talented daughter Dhivya Priya Bhavanani and son Anandraj Bhavanani.
Dr Ananda can be contacted at
25, 2nd Cross, Iyyanar Nagar, Pondicherry-13, India.
e mail: ananda