Communities and Retreat Centers
In 1968, Ananda Village, the original Ananda community, was founded by Swami Kriyananda near Nevada City, California. This community is still flourishing, with 200 residents living on 300 hectares of wooded hills.
Activities include The Expanding Light Yoga and Meditation Retreat, one of America's largest meditation and yoga retreats. Visitors come from all over the world to participate in programs similar to those offered by Ananda's guest retreat center near Assisi, Italy.
Other village activities include schools for the many children; publication and distribution of books, music, and videos of Kriyananda and other Ananda teachers; worldwide spiritual outreach through a magazine, written lessons, Internet site, correspondence, and constant travel by Ananda teachers.
Over the last 20 years, other communities and teaching centers have been established in the U.S.: in Palo Alto and Sacramento, California; Seattle, Washington; and Portland, Oregon. Each of these four urban communities is located in its own apartment complex, housing from 60 to 100 residents, all followers of Ananda teachings. Residents have the opportunity to meditate and have dinners either together as a group, or in their own apartments, where they may live alone or with their families or friends. They work at many different jobs in their city, or they choose to work at an Ananda activity.
The principal activity in each city is a teaching center open to the public, offering evening classes and weekend workshops in a full range of spiritual topics; as well as Sunday services, yoga postures, musical evenings, and healing prayers. Ananda teachers also present programs around the city to businesses and institutions. Most of the city communities operate unique "East West" bookstores which offer books and products in every area of Eastern and Western spirituality and personal growth, as well as evening programs by authors and spiritual teachers. The Palo Alto bookstore, which employs 30 people, is among the world's three largest metaphysical bookstores. Most communities also offer to the public "Living Wisdom" schools for children, incorporating Yogananda's approach to education through self-understanding, concentration and creativity. Music is also important — each community has a choir performing inspiring songs by Kriyananda and Yogananda.