This is not Yoga!!
The first prerequisite for Yoga is to have Vidya, or an intellectual base arrived at by reasoning, though in the final culmination Vidya is left behind. Yoga is an intelligent search for the truth. It doesnt depend on fanciful fables and claims.
And Yogananda really does stretch our credulity!! It starts with him remembering himself as a fetus when he knew all languages and finally selected the one he was hearing as his mother tongue and his first memories right after he was born. The claims keep getting more and more astonishing, beginning with minor miracles like controlling his kite as a child, to fantastical claims like Yogis who never eat, become invisible, fly through the air and do just about anything that Superman does, and much more! There's a photograph of Yogananda standing alone with a caption, "Yogananda standing with his master, who did not care to be photographed, so he made himself invisible." It requires a very strong gullibility to accept this. If anyone wants to become invisible or fly, they should go, not to a Yoga teacher, but to David Copperfield.
I am amazed that people in the West still seem to like this book. Many reviewers write about how they have learned about a 'different culture' and a 'different way of thinking' from this book, as if in India we are quite used to seeing our Yogis flying through the air and so on.
I must make it clear that I am not belittling the book in entirety, it has a childlike purity which makes it a compelling read. Yogananda's transparent sincerity, ability to laugh at himself and his genuine love for god and his thirst for spirituality is all too apparent, and his account of his spiritual quest is often touching and revelatory. This is what gives the book its charm and power. Some of the passages deserve to be counted among the most illuminating accounts of mystical experience ever. But all too often, his eagerness to discover god and people on the spiritual path strays into descriptions of fantastical and unbelievable anecdotes.
It would be quite natural for anyone who first comes into contact with Yoga through this book to develop a strong cynicism about Hinduism and its practises, including Yoga. But this is not Yoga at all. To learn about Yoga, I would recommend reading Swami Vivekananda and Ramkrishna Paramahansa, these were great teachers who also achieved relevatory experiences through Yoga but certainly never made such incredible claims. Yoga is not all about magic and fable that this book makes it out to be.
I am sorry if this review offends anyone who has found this book inspiring. I can understand people being inspired by Yogananda's profound love of God which is so transparent in this book, and which did not fail to move me, but I would like to make my own stand for reason in following the path of Yoga.