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Peri Ness DeFay, Founder of Original Synergy Yoga®

Peri Ness DeFay, the Founder and Principle Teacher of Synergy Yoga was born in Johannesburg, South Africa on the Fourth of July, 1961. Besides doing yoga with her mother, in her Mother’s womb, who was a practicing yogi, Peri's extensive yoga training began at the age of two, in 1963. In her early years is she studied with Hatha Yoga Teacher, Mani Finger. He was a student of Bishnu Ghosh, brother of Paramahansa Yogananda end of Swami Sivananda of India. Many Finger received Kriya Yoga initiation directly from Paramahansa Yogananda in Los Angeles in 1946. Peri herself is a member of Self Realization Fellowship, the society founded by Paramahansa Yogananda.

Peri at the Taj Mahal, 2001
Peri at the Taj Mahal, 2001

In 1973 Peri’s father moved the family from South Africa back to his birth place in London, UK to continue the three children’s education and Peri's yoga studies. In England and in the United States she studied various yoga, traditions and yoga trainings, but considers her primary influence to be that of the Bishnu Ghosh branch of Hatha Yoga. Bishnu Ghosh learned his Hatha Yoga system from his brother and Guru, Paramahansa Yogananda at the Guru's Ranchi School for boys in India. In the book, called The Key to the Kingdom of Health Through Yoga by Buddha Bose, Mr. Ghosh writes in the introduction: “Asana, or correct posture is one of the first steps to God-Consciousness because it tunes the body-radio to receive the high voltage of cosmic energy and divine enlightenment.” This quote outlines a key aspect of Synergy Yoga, of its focus on strengthening the internal energy current for spiritual growth.

Peri with Bishu Gosh
Bishu Ghosh, son of Bishnu, Yogananda's Brother, with Peri at Yoga College of India, Calcutta, 1994

In conceiving Synergy Yoga Peri Ness DeFay, a yoga pioneer, synthesized the most powerful aspects from the various systems she had studied – primarily in the tradition of Paramahansa Yogananda and Bishnu Ghosh tradition. Synergy is derived and inspired primarily from this authentic Yoga Source. Synergy Yoga is a systematic and meditative approach to Hatha Yoga. It has a scientifically developed series of postures, carefully selected from the thousands of existing yoga asanas (postures). Synergy stretches the muscles in a naturally progressive sequence. It strengthens the internal energy current and prepares the body and mind for the higher aspects of yoga. Hatha stimulates and strengthens all the major organs and systems of the body and detoxifies them. Synergy allows each student to work at their own level, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Synergy Yoga leads to the optimum evolution of body mind and and soul.

It was in 1988 that Peri went to Encinitas to become a nun in the SRF Monastic Order. Even though her spiritual counselors Sister Shanti and Sri Mukti Mata thought she should be a Monastic, Sri Daya Mata, President of SRF told her that she could reach more people and could better serve her Guru in the world. Shortly afterward she developed Synergy Yoga drawing from her strong training in the Indian tradition of yoga, especially the Bishnu Ghosh Tradition. In 1992, after teaching privately, Peri opened her small yoga studio in Encinitas, California. It rapidly expanded and grew. The Synergy Yoga Center has taught more than 65,000 students with international students numbering in the thousands. Until they moved up to Northern California, The Synergy Yoga Center was one of the busiest yoga studios in Southern California.

Grateful class on the beach
On the beach near Escondido

With the founding of Synergy Yoga University/Vidyalaya in 1993 the Synergy Yoga Center added its focus on training teachers. The Curriculum is based on the Eightfold Path of Patanjali. The School offers certificates in Synergy Yoga instruction, from the basic to the advanced levels. The highest level is a three-year program of study and Apprenticeship that leads to a Synergy Yoga Advanced Certificate. Synergy Yoga has certified hundreds of teachers worldwide. Using a unique, spiritual dialogue for instruction and dynamic teaching style, Peri emphasizes warmth and compassion in communication. Her focus is healing in optimum health through the pathway of yoga. Since the opening of Peri’s first Synergy studio in Encinitas, many yoga studios have opened in the area and around the world. Many of the teachers at these studios received their training at Synergy Yoga Center.

Peri is considered an esteemed Pioneer of Yoga Trainings, and has taught and influenced many different teachers and flows of this time. Apart from being renowned for their excellent work and teaching, Peri and her husband Charles DeFay are known as “the real deal” of Yoga Teachers, “walking the talk” through their devoted practice of the Raja Yoga Path of Paramahansa Yogananda’s Self Realization Fellowship. Charles has been Synergy’s Head Mentor Teacher and Trainer since 1998. He has inspired hundreds of yogis to go deeper in the practice of Yoga and spread the light.

In 2008 Synergy Yoga moved their headquarters to the beautiful coastal town of Point Arena, California where their 20 year Northern Synergy studio was surrounded by beautiful ocean views, sparkling clean air and magnificent Redwood forests. Point Arena is the closest point to the Hawaiian Islands in the United States. The purity of the energy in Point Arena and Manchester is very conducive to Yoga practice, Meditation in stillness and light. They continue to lead Trainings and Retreats in the majestic Northern California Redwoods and worldwide.

Charles in his own words


Synergy Yoga’s purpose is to provide a unique and complete, authentic Indian Hatha Yoga (the true Ashtanga Yoga) to one seeking to develop spiritually according to the Eightfold Path of Patanjali: Yama and Niyama (Moral discipline/Observances- Do’s and Don’ts!), Asana (Correct Posture), Pranayama (Breath Control), Pratyahara (Interiorization), Dharana (Concentration), Dhyana (Meditation), and Samadhi (Bliss Consciousness). Hatha Yoga is a system of poses or asanas that particularly exercise the spine and its etheric or energy-transferring channels. It works to restore the balance and harmony of the body, mind and Spirit.

Please click here for The Soul of Yoga article

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