ENCINITAS — The final touches were being applied to the modest white building after 18 months of planning and construction to complete the project. On Saturday the Self-Realization Fellowship will mark the completion of their new auxiliary chapel and open for the first time for services Sunday.
Lauren Landress is the assistant director of public relations for the Self-Realization Fellowship, which has its headquarters in Los Angeles, Calif.
She said the auxiliary chapel was built to accommodate the overflow from their existing temple one block north of the new chapel. “Over the years, especially recently, there’s been an increase in attendance…and there’s been a need for accommodating the overflow that cannot fit in our main temple any longer,” Landress said.
The Fellowship was able to use an existing 2,400 square feet that it had already owned and was using as office space to renovate for the chapel, along with an additional 1,400 square feet created as new construction.
The Fellowship implemented a fundraising campaign to pay for the renovation and new construction.
The main temple, which can hold approximately 300 people in the main room, an overflow section and outside patio, holds two services on Sundays to try and accommodate everyone.
The new temple at 1105 2nd Street will allow 200 more congregants to watch the services on two big screen TVs receiving a video feed.
Landress attributed the growth of their congregation to the increasing interest in yoga over the last 10 years. The founder of the Self-Realization Fellowship Paramahansa Yogananda is considered the father of yoga in the West, she added. “His book, ‘Autobiography of a Yogi,’ which was first published in 1946, has served as the definitive introduction to yoga for most Westerners.”
And it’s with Westerners becoming more familiar with the deeper practices of yoga, which feature meditation techniques at the core of Yogananda’s teachings, Landress said, that they’ve been seeing the steady growth and over the last couple of years has really blossomed.
“People do want…something that’s more lasting and has more meaning in their lives and they’re finding that meditation helps to bring them more in focus with who they truly are. It provides a…sense of peace, joy and well-being,” she said. “And the more one meditates, the more one feels that and especially in this very uncertain, frenetic age that we’re in, meditation is a very solid panacea for what we’re faced with.”
Brother Naradananda is a minister at the Fellowship and said that Encinitas, where Yogananda wrote his autobiography, is an ideal spot. “It’s a beach community, and this, being Southern California, probably we’re on the cutting edge of anything as far as meditation…it was just a perfect spot to teach meditation,” he said.
“That’s our main core, is meditation,” he said.
The services at the Self-Realization Fellowship are those of meditation and inspiration based on the teachings of Yogananda, Landress explained. “(The teachings) have their roots in original Christianity and original yoga,” she said.
The new chapel will also be the home of the teen youth program and can be used for events as weddings, christenings or memorial services.
Parking spaces are available on both ends of the new chapel, including the use of street parking and an agreement with nearby businesses that will allow congregants to park in the lots on Sundays.
Chris Mayne of C Mayne Construction supervised the build on a design by architect Gene Chapo.
The Self-Realization Fellowship recently celebrated its 75th anniversary. The original temple was built in 1938, but due to erosion collapsed four years later. Services were held in several different locations prior to 1977 when the services were moved to their existing location at 939 2nd Street.