In Memory of Swami Radhananda, (Mary Ann McDougall) 1941-2021
Swami Radhananda, (Mary Ann McDougall) passed from this life on the evening of January 28, 2021, guided by the light of the full moon. She took her last breath at the Ashram, surrounded by loved ones, a week before her 80th birthday.
Hers was a life dedicated to teaching, learning and community. Born in Princeton, BC, in 1941, Mary Ann was the eldest in a family of 8 children. She studied education at UBC and took her first job as a teacher in Lillooet. She lived in a communal house in Vancouver in the late 60s and in a geodesic dome in Robert’s Creek while pregnant with her first child. In 1970, she was a scholar’s wife in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, then a young mother of two in Cambridge, England, and finally, she settled with her family in Lethbridge, Alberta.
In Lethbridge in the mid 70s, she helped start a ground-breaking daycare centre, Children’s House. She joined a women’s consciousness raising group, where she met her friend Susan (now Swami Jyotihananda) who would introduce her to Yasodhara Ashram.
She first came to the Ashram in 1977 and became a lifelong student of Swami Radha. She did the Yoga Teachers Course in 1982. She then completed a Masters in Education at the University of Lethbridge and became an early childhood education consultant for Alberta Ed. She was also the director of the Yasodhara Yoga Centre in Lethbridge from 1986 to 1990.
She moved to the Ashram permanently in the winter of 1990. Initiated into sanyas in 1994 and taking the name Swami Radhananda, she was president and spiritual director of Yasodhara Ashram from 1993-2014. She wrote a memoir about her time with Swami Radha, Carried by a Promise: A Life Transformed by Yoga, and a book of inspirational essays, Living the Practice.
Swami Radhananda opened the way for the next generation to embrace the rewards of spiritual life. An innovator in adult education, she updated the Ashram’s teaching style to become interactive and experiential. She encouraged students to realize their potential through self-inquiry, service and devotion.
She was a living example of the quality and integrity of the yogic teachings. She believed that personal transformation was possible for everyone, because she experienced it in her own life.
From her retirement in 2014 until her death, she continued to support her students and friends with love and generosity. She walked the grounds of her home, the Ashram, as long as she could, greeting everyone she met with light in her eyes, often inviting them to walk the path with her.
On September 8th, 2021, a day celebrating our lineage, we gather to give her ashes to the lake and give thanks for all she has offered us.
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Presidency and Beyond
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