Swami Satchidananda Ma (Mataji) was born Patricia Moonyeen Doherty 14th May 1936. Yoga came into her life when as a young mother with deteriorating health she sought to improve matters herself.
She obtained a copy of the book ‘Yoga for you’ by Indra Devi (who she was later fortunate to meet in Switzerland), and because at that time yoga teachers were few and far between, her yoga was self-taught to begin with.
Alan Babbington (founder of the Albion Yoga Movement) who taught in London began running yoga retreats in Glastonbury in the early 1970’s and this is where Mataji attended her first class. Her enthusiasm and dedication for Yoga and its teachings has continued unabated ever since.
Mataji trained to become a teacher with the British Wheel of Yoga (BWY Dip 1975) and then later as a teacher trainer (1981). Around her regular classes, seminars, retreats, courses and travel she gave considerable time to various BWY committees as a volunteer including General Secretary, Vice Chairman, Education Committee Chairman and she held the BWY Chair 1989 – 1992.
As a British Wheel of Yoga Teacher Trainer and more recently too as Founder Director of the Satchidananda Wholistic Trust (1990 – 2010), Mataji promotes Yoga and well-being in society whenever she can. Her warmth and open heartedness are instantly recognisable, yet people also respond positively to her practical approach to Yoga. Her practice and teaching are naturally in a style of her own, although she believes in integral yoga in the tradition of Swami Sivananda.
It was through a spiritual insight during meditation that Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh gave her her name. Her other initial inspirer was the late Swami Venkatesananda, a direct and close disciple of Gurudev Swami Sivananda.
Latterly she also formed a close association with two other disciples of Swami Sivananda – Swami Shivapremananda and Swami Omkarananda, who finally formally initiated her as Swami Satchidananda Ma.
Other influential teachers in the UK were also dear friends, Swami Indrananda and Swami Gitaprakashananda.
It was Gitaprakashanandaji who introduced her to Swami Omkarananda and his ashrams in Switzerland, Austria and India, where she has been a regular visitor and devotee for many years.
The close relationship enjoyed with all the Omkaranda Ashrams today is particularly important to Mataji and is mutually acknowledged, as borne out by the current head of the Omkarananda Ashram Himalayas, Swami Vishweshwarananda’s generous foreword in her book – Thoughts for Today and Everyday.
Swami Satchidananda Ma has been tutoring yoga at residential retreats for many years. She has been practising yoga for more than 45 years and as a teacher of yoga and the Alexander Technique and a spiritual healer, she has travelled and taught extensively throughout the British Isles as well as overseas.