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Carried by a Promise: A Life Transformed Through Yoga [Paperback]

Swami Radhananda
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Jan. 27 2011
Yoga means many things to many people. Some understand yoga as an ancient spiritual discipline. Others practice asanas for exercise and health benefits. In Carried by a Promise, yoga is a path of liberation. Follow one woman’s journey from a life of dissatisfaction to a life of joy and meaning – a life transformed through yoga.

Carried by a Promise is the new memoir by Swami Radhananda, the spiritual director of Yasodhara Ashram. We meet her as Mary-Ann in 1977, the mother of two young children, an innovative educator and wife of an intellectual whose potential is imploding. With her marriage in trouble, she struggles with depression and questions the purpose in her life.

A friend takes her to Yasodhara Ashram, where she attends a ‘Women in Spiritual Life’ conference. There she meets her teacher, Swami Radha, who challenges the women in the group to climb the mountain of spiritual aspiration. Her words strike a chord for Mary-Ann who sees in Swami Radha a role model of a woman who knows what her life is about. Yoga provides a lifeline out of her depression and Mary-Ann starts to find her own path of Light.

Her efforts to embody her values within her family, her work and her yoga practice, create an honest picture of what it means to live a spiritual life. Her deepening commitment to self-knowledge leads her first to furthering her education, then to a professional career and finally to becoming a resident of the Yasodhara Ashram in a close relationship to Swami Radha, who she acknowledges as her spiritual mother.

Her challenges within the community, her steadfast commitment to her guru, her loving connection to Divine Mother, all weave a tapestry of integrity, determination and devotion. Mary-Ann transforms into Swami Radhananda. She begins a new phase of life, extending beyond personal limitations to a place of keen leadership that continually challenges and enriches her life.

Swami Radhananda is an inspiration to all those willing to climb the steep path to self-mastery. Her story is a very human example of how a heart-felt promise to the Divine can carry us on the spiritual path.


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Swami Radhananda's absolute devotion to Swami Radha shines throughout the pages and is an inspiration for us all. --Tenzin Palmo, founder of the Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery

Inspiring! --Roshi Joan Halifax, Founding Abbot, Upaya Zen Center

Carried by a Promise, explains the transformation of a former Alberta homemaker into Swami Radhananda, head of the large ashram. --Vancouver Sun, January 27, 2011

From the Back Cover

In 1977, when Mary-Ann McDougall – mother, wife and teacher – first heard Swami Sivananda Radha speak at Yasodhara Ashram, she knew she had found what was missing in her life.

Her memoir, Carried by a Promise, is the unique story of a woman’s spiritual journey that follows her deepening commitment to Swami Radha and the extraordinary events that lead to her transformation into Swami Radhananda.

Carried by a Promise offers a very human example of how a heartfelt promise to the Divine can carry us on the spiritual path. Above all, it gives an intimate look into the love between a guru and a disciple – a sacred connection that has the power to transform.

“She and I have made a promise. She gave me a thread that connects us forever. I have seen the looks of love that shine from her eyes in blessings. Sometimes her voice comes through me clearly. She is my spiritual mother who has imbued each cell with Light, who is the flame in my heart.” – Swami Radhananda


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiration May 11 2011
By all.j
Format:Paperback
''This is the training. Temple, guru, rose petals, people, devotion, service ' one foot in heaven and one on earth.''

This is a book for those who look for inspiration from the experiences of others. Much more, it is a deeply touching story of one woman's inner growth and professional development, told in the straightforward voice of a woman who was continually reviewing the way she was evolving, setting herself new goals and polishing and refining others. At the same time, Swami Radhananda is teaching: posing questions readers can ask themselves, demonstrating how to gather up new learnings and apply them in daily life through the practices of journal writing and reflection. Through it, Radhananda emerges as an intelligent, practical woman, who has used her mind constructively in academic studies, a career, family and spiritual life.

Step by step, she interweaves experiences in the different spheres of her life, allowing new skills and insights in one area to cross-fertilize and enrich another. She demonstrates how she faced many challenges in her marriage, career and training at the Ashram, giving us recording the subtle shifts of mind and heart that paved the path of her spiritual growth under the guidance of her teacher, Swami Sivananda Radha. We learn how she drew on inspiration and support from Swami Radha and how that relationship sustained her.

What has stayed with me since reading the book is the account of the guru-disciple relationship, and the illustrations of how this was powered by love and commitment: ''A love for her, for all she has carried, for what she has created and for how she has changed my life''.
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Amazon.com: 4.9 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Puts a Whole New Light on Yoga Feb. 9 2011
By Janet G - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
A `must read' for anyone on a spiritual path. Grounded, practical, inspiring. This book takes the fantasy and theory out of what it means to live a spiritual life. Swami Radhananda speaks directly to a marriage that is not working, to lack of financial security, to going back to school mid-life--bringing her spiritual practices into her life then witnessing the changes that start to happen. At the heart of it all is her love for her teacher.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Inspiring Spiritual Journey Valuable to Anyone on the Path May 13 2011
By Erin L - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
Reading Carried by a Promise has provided me with the much needed traction and inspiration to continue and go deeper into my own spiritual life.
Swami Radhananda's lusciously honest memoires begin when she was still Mary-Ann McDougall, mother of two, wife, and teacher, discovering for the first time just what Swami Radha's teachings and yoga are all about. She starts from her thought-provoking introduction to different spiritual practices like standing meditation and journaling. Then Radhananda takes us along on her journey and into her transformation as her faith deepens and her devotion to her guru, Swami Radha, intensifies. She tells the story of her rocky marriage, her spiritual experiences, financial stress, the development of her relationship with Swami Radha and how she eventually comes to live at the Ashram. All of this is interwoven with inspiring gems of her guru's teaching.
What echoes clear throughout the book is Swami Radhananda's willingness to open her life to Light, and the ensuing Divine assistance she receives, propelling her forward along the spiritual path.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring July 4 2011
By AllisonAdventures - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Carried by a Promise is an inspiring story of growth and transformation through various practices of yoga. I'm just in the beginning stages of learning about yoga as a philosophy and way of life rather than just a fitness regimen. This book takes you through 20 years of personal journals, on her road from a depressed and seemingly going nowhere mid-30's wife and mother to the spiritual director of a thriving ashram. She discovers a spirituality that was missing in her life; and as that grows, so does faith in herself. Using her newfound inner strength, with help from her guru Swami Radha and the "Divine Light" - she manages to pull herself out of the depths of poverty and depression to a successful career and finally life at the ashram. This book is full of useful tips and knowledge from a true guru for anyone struggling on their own path.
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting path to enlightenment March 22 2014
By Melanie Dufour - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I've attended the 10 retreat at the the Ashram in Kootenay Bay, BC which was the best gift I could've ever given myself. This book was another great gift! A great read, well written and expressed.
Swami Radhananda's experience is a impressive one and shows that we can reach that spiritual experience we seek. Looking forward to reading her other material.
5.0 out of 5 stars Delivers even more than it promised April 2 2013
By Lynn Somerstein, PhD, RYT - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
[...][...][...]Swami Radhananda's transparency of self and devotional practice are inspirations in themselves, but I was quite surprised to learn about her tough early experiences-- she was married to an alcoholic and had to care for her children and support her family pretty much by herself. She grew up and became a fierce and just role model for all women.

Learning how people develop inspires my own growth, both professionally and personally. I'm a psychotherapist as well as a writer, and I love memoirs. In fact, Serge Prengel and co-edited a book called [...] which shows how analysts, body workers, and therapists learned from their own life experiences to help their clients find their paths.
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