Swami Sivananda was the first sannyasin to inspire his disciples to go out and teach something that society needed, or would need, and that was yoga. He made it clear at the beginning that the application of yoga was to enhance the qualities and expressions of head, heart and hands. He did not advocate yoga for self-realization; he did not advocate yoga as a practice to be done in seclusion for your own emancipation, but he gave a practical focus to the subject of yoga by saying, it was to improve the qualities, the faculties of head, heart and hands, and that had to be the purpose. All the disciples of Swami Sivananda received the mandate to propagate yoga, and they all left and each one became a master in their own right, who gave us the first glimpse into the vast canvas of yoga.
Swami Satyananda, after being guided by Swami Sivananda, chose to travel throughout the subcontinent to assess the needs of people and society, and how yoga could help fulfil those requirements, those needs. For many years he travelled through the country and eventually came to Munger.
It was in Munger that he first developed the system of yoga chakra. He taught the system of yoga chakra to the first course for sannyasin aspirants, which happened in the year 1970. Prior to that, Sri Swamiji conducted a nine-month yoga teacher training course, not one-month, not 200 hours, not 400 hours, nine months, eight hours every day. For nine months, he taught people the principles of yoga chakra. People who came out after that nine-month training became masters in their own right, like Swami Devatmananda in France, Guni Martin in Denmark, and many such people from Poland to London to Australia to America. They became masters in their own right, because they had the full exposure to yoga. They had the complete vision of yoga which Sri Swamiji had developed.
Out of the many branches of yoga, according to the needs of people, Sri Swamiji selected six relevant practices: hatha yoga and karma yoga, the physical expressions of yoga; raja yoga and bhakti yoga, the psychological expressions of yoga; kriya yoga and jnana yoga, the psychic and the knowing, the realizing aspect of yoga. It was these six yogas that form the six spokes of the yogic wheel which Sri Swamiji developed in the1960s.
In 1963, Swami Prarthnananda had written an article on Paramahamsaji, which was published in the YOGA magazine, called ‘The Hub of the Wheel: Swami Satyananda’. He had given the name ‘Yoga Chakra Kalanidhi’ to Sri Swamiji. Yoga chakra meaning the wheel of yoga, kala means the art and nidhi means one who is rich. So kalanidhi is the artful creation of the yoga chakra. This name was given to Sri Swamiji in 1963. Therefore, the idea of yoga chakra is not something which was my invention, yet the credit definitely goes to me for having revived it.
—20 October 2018, Munger Yoga Symposium