The Baptiste Family
Check out the related articles written about and by Sherri Baptise Power of Yoga
|Baron Baptiste, Boston
People Magazine ~ June 2003
SEX AND THE SUTRA? “A lot of teachers are kids in a candy store I got that out of my system early.” says Baptiste, 39. “Me seeing students doesn't work.” (He's dating a yoga teacher.)
IN THE GENES: His parents opened San Francisco's first yoga studio; his three kids “can stand on their heads. But they'd rather snowboard.”
CELEB CLIENTS: Helen Hunt, Elizabeth Shue
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Anniversary 25 Yoga Journal
[This excerpt explains how the Baptiste Yoga Dynasty extends over three generations]
In America is the place, the people, the opportunity for everything new," wrote Swami Vivekananda before he left India in 1893. Vivekananda, had learned from his guru, Sri Ramakrishna, that the worlds religions are but various phase of one eternal religion and that spiritual essence could be transmitted from one person to another. He set about to bring that transmission to our shores. His first speech was at the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago. Sisters and brothers of America, he began, and the audience was on their feet, giving him a standing ovation. Our love affair with the East was born, and so began a steady stream of Eastern ideas flowing west. In 1920 Paramahansa Yogananda came to address a conference of religious liberals in Boston. He had been sent by his guru, the ageless Babaji, to spread the message of kriya yoga to the West. Although his early works had unpromised titles like Recharging your Business Battery out of the Cosmos, his 1946 Autobiography of a Yogi [self Realization Fellowship] remains a spiritual classic. Yoga was established on the West Coast in the mid-50s with Walt and Magana Baptistes San Francisco studio. Walts father had been influenced by Vivekananda, and Walt and Magana were students of Yogananda. The Baptiste family yoga dynasty continues today with their children, Sherri Baptiste and Baron Baptiste.
FRANCISCO yoga teacher Walt Baptiste,
who died on July 6th at the age of 83, was one of Americass
pioneers. Baptiste began teaching breathwork at the tender age of
17, having been exposed to yoga by his uncle Joseph Baptiste, a
disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda. Two years later he opened the
Center for Physical culture, where he combined weight training with
yoga and meditation. In 1955, Walt and his wife, Magana, opened
the first yoga school in San Francisco; in 1971, they founded the
Baptiste Health & Fitness Center, which included a yoga room,
gymnasium, and dance studio as well as a natural food store and
restaurant. Baptiste was also a competitive bodybuilder [he won
the Mr. America title in 1949], wrote extensively on
physical culture, and edited Body Moderne magazine. But as a committed
yogi, he was as much concerned with the spirit as the body. Meher
Baba called him a son of Light, and Swami Sivananda,
founder of the Divine Life Society, bestowed on him the honorific
Yogiraj, king of yoga. Over the course of six decades,
Baptiste taught countless students, and today three of them-his
and Maganas children, Sherri Baptiste Freeman, Devi
Ananda Baptiste, and Baron Baptiste, all accomplished and popular
instructors-carry on the family yoga tradition.
Meet the New Guru Baron Baptiste
Unlike most American yogis, Baptiste didnt discover yoga: he was born into it. His father was a world famous body builder and Mr. America, [see Baptiste Family History] who studied the eastern religions and ancient disciplines of yoga with his father. Baronss mother demonstrated the benefits of yoga during a San Francisco magazine while he was still in her womb. Baron has all the knowledge of the purist view of yoga and hes able to translate it in a way that people understand.
The NFL'S Yogi
If you havent yet heard of Baron Baptiste, just wait-ESPNs Cyberfit Power Yoga master is coming to a cable channel near you. Whether Hes hawking his instructional yoga videos on the QVC shopping network, directing his classes with infectious enthusiasm, or leading Philadelphia Eagles football team through integral yoga workouts, Baptiste seems to exist at the calm center of his own promotional hurricane. And then suddenly-and you hear this from nine out of ten people-theyve tapped into an inner calm, a poise, an equanimity, an inner peach with themselves that theyve never experienced before in their lives. This inner balance, Baptiste believes, forms the essence of yoga, no matter what the style. Even critics admit that their parents were great, and that Baptiste's lineage is strong. Barons father Walt, a world-famous bodybuilder and former Mr. America, founded San Franciscos first yoga studio in 1935. Magana, Barons mother was photographed for a 1963 layout in the San Francisco Chronicle while eight months pregnant with her son, demonstrating yoga for expectant mothers. [So I suppose I have yoga in me since before I was born,Baron laughs.] At twelve, Baron was studying, fasting , and meditation in a Himalayan ashram, and at fifteen he was teaching childrens yoga classes in San Francisco. His sister, Sherri Baptiste Freeman, has been a popular yoga teacher in the Bay area for years.
Talking shop with Baron Baptiste
Yoga has always been close to home for teacher Baron Baptiste, who was born into a lineage of yoga teachers and whose parents opened the first yoga studio in San Francisco when Baron was a child.